Scarlet Indian Paintbrush

This weekend, Harland and I traveled to Missouri to visit my family for Mother’s day. Sunday morning, we made our way through the northern part of the state. As we passed a horse pasture we noticed a hill glowing bright red. We stopped for a closer look and discovered it was Scarlet Indian Paintbrush, a native plant.

I’ve seen a few scattered plants of it alongside the road in the past, but never an area of it this large. It covered the sides of two hills.

A few facts about this showy native:

  • Native Americans used an infusion of Indian Paintbrush flowers to treat colds and rheumatism. They also used it as a hair wash, and as a love charm by hiding it on the person they were interested in.
  • It is partially parasitic in that its roots grow until they reach the roots of other plants, frequently grasses, and then penetrate the roots of these host plants, obtaining a portion of their nutrients.
  • The flowers themselves are barely noticeable. The brilliant red comes from dense clusters of leaf-like bracts surrounding the flowers.

While we were taking pictures, a hummingbird flew in to dine.  It came within a few feet of me as I sat very still, and I got only one good pic before it flew away.

It was a gift to find such a display of nature’s beauty, and the hummingbird was an added bonus.


Cattle, corn, wheat, beans, mud, snow, ice, and drought. Plenty of fresh air and quiet. Our life is sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes joyous, but never boring.

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17 Responses

  1. Kate says:

    Love your photos of the love charm plant here. And wow! What a capture of the hummingbird. Way to go!

  2. Linda says:

    I love Indian Paint Brush, but it isn’t blooming here yet. Right now we are experiencing 45 mph winds and it is bitter cold AGAIN!

    Suppose to freeze tonight and snow.


    • Suzanne says:

      My sister lives in CO, so I hear about the springs there and how winter doesn’t want to let go. Hang in there, one day it will get warm.

  3. Those pictures are beautiful! I love driving along and finding beautiful fields of color.
    And I had no idea that’s what those flowers are called.

  4. Bev says:

    Your pictures are lovely. Great catch….that hummingbird…just beautiful.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog.
    Have a great week!
    Bee Haven Acres

  5. Teresa says:

    The pictures are wonderful! I wonder why I never seem to have my camera in hand when those beautiful moments transpire.

  6. Romaine says:

    Love your website. I’m originally an Indiana farm girl so looking around here makes me nostalgic. Your photography is beautiful.

  7. Glenda Perry says:

    Great job on the pics and the description! I SO enjoy your blog.

  8. ellada says:

    Scarlet Indian Paintbrush: beautiful flowers and so many. And the hummingbird was in did a bonus.

  9. Janet says:

    Wow, I’ve been on your site for less than 5 min. and I’m already commenting 🙂 I ~love~ the hummingbird picture, what a great shot. Your most recent post about the yellow roses made me want to go out and plant one in my yard. BTW, I followed your link from a comment you made on PW’s website, about the pink spike heels? I nearly died laughing, it’s still making me smile. Love your sense of humor already!

    • Suzanne says:

      Hello Janet,
      I’m so glad you stopped by. Yes, I just can’t see myself in those shoes. They just scream pain and discomfort. Here on the farm there’s always the chance I might have to chase something, or be chased by something, and there won’t be any running done in those. If you are interested, here is where I purchased Harison’s Rose: I’ve been very pleased with everything I’ve ordered from Jung.
      Take care.

  10. CheyAnne says:

    Great info about this beautiful plant. I grew up in St. Louis and west of there and don’t remember these flowers at all. I always thought they were a western flower. I love the facts you include. I would love to have a field of these near me.
    peace n abundance,

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Cheyanne,
      I grew up in northern Mo where I found that field, but hardly ever saw them before.
      Thanks for visiting!

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