Saturday, February 9, 2013

Slender Coral Paintbrush of Western Meadows

Common Red Paintbrush, Cypress Hill Park: photo by Shelley Banks
Common Red Paintbrush, Cypress Hill Park © SB
In August, on the high plateau of the Cypress Hills, the Paintbrush bloom.

The Paintbrush is a native plant of alpine meadows, so I was startled to see it here, so close to the prairie... But the Cypress Hills, which span the southwest corner of Saskatchewan and the southeast tip of Alberta, are the highest point of land between Labrador and Banff, and many aspects of it are unusual.

These wildflowers, which I think are the Common Red Paintbrush, appear far more coral or salmon pink than any shade of red. But that's typical. Royer/Dickinson says they can also be crimson, or even yellow.

The showy display of the flower clusters are composed of colourful bracts, not petals. The true flowers are almost fully hidden within each, and are tiny, tube-shaped, and green.  (These are visible in the photo at right, if you look carefully.)

Prairie Wildflower: Common Red Paintbrush (Castilleja miniata)
Location: Cypress Hills Inter-Provincial Park (Saskatchewan and Alberta), Canada.
Photo Date: August 1, 2012.


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