Last updated on May 21st, 2023 at 09:25 am

The Indian paintbrush flower is a striking plant, also known as Castilleja Indivisa, desert Indian paintbrush, or Prairie fire. It belongs to a species consisting of circa 200 herbaceous plants, annual and perennial, and is a part of the figwort family. It is part of the Orobanchaceae family, with many subspecies. 

The plant is named for the Spanish botanist Domingo Castillejo to honor his work in the field. Indian paintbrush species can be found west of the Americas, from the tip of Chile to Alaska. One genus of the plant can be found in Russia’s Northwest.

Indian paintbrush is considered a wildflower and grows abundantly in forest clearings and across grasslands in the southwest and western US. In this part of the world, it is a biennial, and flowers twice a year. 

It starts to put out rosettes in the first year of its life and can flower in the spring. Indian paintbrush usually flowers in the second year, during the summer. It has a short life and dies after it puts out seeds. In the right conditions, it reseeds every year in the fall.

What does the Indian Paintbrush flower symbolize?

The Indian paintbrush flower’s meanings are many. It symbolizes confidence and clarity of thought if a person is embarking on a new life path. It also symbolizes intuition and trust in making new and bold decisions. 

Another important meaning of the Indian paintbrush flower includes feeling supported and comfortable in and on any new life path. People attracted to this striking plant are most likely taking new directions in specific areas of their life. Trying to forge new paths can trigger a feeling of confusion and feeling loss, as well as doubt. 

Since the Indian paintbrush flower’s meaning is profound, keeping some plants nearby can make everyone making radical changes feel supported. After all, the plant thrives in difficult conditions and flourishes.

All in all, the Indian paintbrush flower symbolic meanings are:

  • confidence
  • clarity
  • happiness
  • passion

Meaning of the Indian Paintbrush flower colors

Red color

The red Indian paintbrush flowers symbolize confidence and clarity of thought.

Orange color

The orange Indian paintbrush flowers mean trust.

Magenta color

The magenta Indian paintbrush flowers represent intuition and confidence in one’s chosen path.

White color

The white Indian paintbrush flowers convey support and comfort. Those embarking on a new path in life need not wonder about the rightness of their decisions.

Interesting facts about the Indian Paintbrush flowers

  • Indian paintbrush flower is the state flower for Wyoming and was adopted as such in 1917.
  • It is a parasitic plant as it taps into the root systems of other plants to get nutrients.
  • An interesting fact to note is that the leaves of the Indian paintbrush are very colorful. The actual flowers of the plant are small and hidden by the colorful leaves.
  • In some US states, the plant is eaten for its sweet taste and treasured for its nectar. Since the plant soaks up metals and other toxic elements, be aware of the possibility of ingesting a toxic item.
  • These flowers are essential for setting seeds and quite unremarkable in appearance.
  • Some Native American tribes use this plant’s flowers as a condiment to treat rheumatism and boost their immunity.
  • This plant was a source of dyes in the past.
  • Since the plant absorbs all kinds of nutrients, it is planted in areas to remove pollutants and toxic metals from the soil.

How to grow Indian Paintbrush flowers

Indian paintbrushes rely on other plants to live. It is a hemiparasite that thrives when its roots can tap into the roots of surrounding plants to obtain nutrition. It will not damage its unwitting neighbors because they must all work together to thrive. Combine it with blue gamma grass, sagebrush, blazing star, penstemon, and other perennials to create a vibrant, ecological garden.

  1. Plant the Indian paintbrush in well-draining, moist soil.
  2. Place the plant in sunny spaces where it can get 4-6 hours of full sunlight to thrive.
  3. Maintain regular watering.
  4. Add compost in the spring to encourage growth.

How to care for Indian Paintbrush flowers

  1. Do not water once it’s established, as too much water will kill the Indian paintbrush.
  2. Do not fertilize.
  3. Plant some seeds to help the spread of the Indian paintbrush. 

Best time to gift Indian Paintbrush flowers

Since you now know what the meaning and symbolism of the Indian paintbrush flowers are, choosing the right gift is easy. Choose based on color and give these flowers as a gift to your friends or a host to let them know you are thinking of them.


The striking red bracts of the Indian paintbrush make it easy to see and identify in the spring and early summer. Bracts are modified leaves that give the plant the appearance of a paintbrush dipped in red paint.

Indigenous peoples widely used this perennial, woody plant. Food, beverages, preservation, a range of remedies (for burns, contraception, injuries, wash, etc.), poison infusion, love charm, decoration (hide coloration, celebrations, and wreaths), hummingbird traps, and other items are available.

If you want to know and learn more about flowers, we at PansyMaiden can help you. Check out our fun, easy-to-read, and informative flower-related content that you will surely enjoy!