Thursday, June 17, 2010

Indian Paintbrush

Indian paintbrush (Castilleja affinis)
is found through large portions of California.
Castilleja is a genus with many species
of Indian paintbrush which I have not tried to differentiate in this post. The flowers are edible and sweet
and were consumed by American Indians
as a condiment with fresh greens.
They absorb and concentrate selenium in their tissues from the soils in which they grow, so it can be very toxic if the roots or green parts are consumed. It should be avoided as food if found growing in highly alkaline soils. Some Indian tribes in Nevada used it to treat venereal disease. It has an erect stem which is greenish to purple in color. The leaves are variable in shape and the inflorescence is a series of bracts in shades of bright red to yellowish.

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