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An upright, hairy annual, perennial or biennial herb native to Texas with single erect stems and a slender taproot. The terminal red-orange flower is a misconception. Actually the flower is tiny, creamy white to pale yellow, encircled by the red-orange leaf-like bracts. The seeds are very small and should be sown directly on the soil surface. Adapted to well-drained areas in full sun.
Meadow near Lake Lewisville.
The flowers of Indian paintbrush are edible, and were consumed in moderation by various Native American tribes as a condiment with other fresh greens. These plants have a tendency to absorb and concentrate selenium in their tissues from the soils in which they grow, and can be potentially very toxic if the roots or green parts of the plant are consumed. Highly alkaline soils increase the selenium levels in the plants. Indian paintbrush has similar health benefits to consuming garlic if only the flowers are eaten in small amounts and in moderation. The Ojibwe used a hairwash made from Indian paintbrush to make their hair glossy and full bodied, and as a treatment for rheumatism. The high selenium content of this plant has been cited as the reason for its effectiveness for these purposes. Nevada Indian tribes used the plant to treat sexually transmitted diseases and to enhance the immune system.