Wyoming is the least populous American state and the tenth largest by area. It is situated in the mountain region of the western parts of the country. Wyoming is surrounded by Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Utah, Idaho, and Colorado. It is one of the sparsely populated states in the country with a population density of about 5.97 individuals per square mile. It was the forty-fourth state to gain statehood on July 10, 1890. Other than their usual state symbols like their flag, seal, nickname, and motto, Wyoming has numerous living state symbols including their official state flower.
The Wyoming state flower is the Castilleja linariaefolia commonly known as the painted cup, Wyoming paintbrush, or the Indian paintbrush. Wyoming adopted their official flower on January 31, 1917. When the state was looking for an official state flower, Dr Grace Hebard from Wyoming University promoted the Castilleja linariaefolia over numerous other plant species including the fringed gentian and the columbine.
The Indian Paintbrush
The Indian paintbrush is one of the over 200 perennial and annual herbaceous plant species native to the Americas continents. The Indian paintbrush makes up the genus Castilleja of the Scrophulariaceae family. The common Wyoming Indian paintbrush is classified as the Castilleja linariaefolia.
The Wyoming paintbrush is a semi-parasitic plant that is usually attached to the host plant’s tube by its roots; therefore they can suck water and nutrients from the host plants. It is propagated by dividing the bulbs, corms, tubers, and rhizomes. The Castilleja linariaefolia can be distinguished from other paintbrushes by its habitat and narrow leaves. George Bentham named it in 1846 from a specimen collected by Fremont John in Wyoming in 1842. The Wyoming paintbrush is a prized venereal diseases treatment. The native Indian Americans from Utah used this plant as a blood purifier and also to treat nose bleeding.
The Wyoming Indian paintbrush is a member of the family of figworts with a group of stems that grow upright from the plant’s base. It can attain a maximum height of about 3.28 feet with some 1.18 inches long linear leaves. The lower green leaves of the Wyoming paintbrush are narrow and unlobed while the upper leaves are hairy and have three lobes. The greenish-purple tall stems of this species have a red-orange or scarlet flower head at their tips. The painted cup’s flowers are made up of yellow to pinkish-red calyx and yellowish-green floral tube which are surrounded by numerous sepals. The flower is usually partially hidden by some red tracts. These plants have fruit capsules filled with seeds. New plants grow when the seeds are sown directly during fall. These flowers blossom from June to September.
The Castilleja linariaefolia is indigenous to Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, California, Montana, Oregon, and Idaho. The Indian paintbrush thrives on the arid plains, rocky slopes and it is associated with juniper or pinyon pine woodland. Even though it grows in moist regions, this plant species is drought tolerant and can grow in the sagebrush, bitterbrush, and manzanita.