Wasatch Wildflowers: Wyoming Paintbrush (Castilleja linariifolia)

WASATCH MOUNTAINS, Utah — The Wyoming Paintbrush is the state flower of Wyoming. It belongs to the Castilleja (paintbrush) genus, named after 18th-century Spanish botanist Domingo Castillejo. Most plants in the paintbrush family cannot be transplanted because they are partial parasites – their roots connect with roots of other species, obtaining a portion of nutrients from the host plant.

The Wyoming Paintbrush’s leaves are linear-shaped. Its bright red or orange leaves at the top of the plant are often mistaken for flowers. However, the tiny actual flower hides under the colorful leaves. Closer to the ground, the leaves are usually yellow or gray-green when the plant is young, and as the plant ages, they can turn purplish. Wyoming paintbrushes can grow up to 2 feet tall.

Native to Utah, look for blooms in aspen, sagebrush, and shrub communities at 3,700 to 10,300 feet elevation, May through September.

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