Indian Paintbrush Wildflower

Glacier National Park, Wyoming & Pacific Northwest

The Indian Paintbrush wildflower is one of nature’s most beautiful red flowers.

Visitors flock to photograph this wildflower and no Glacier National Park vacation is complete without paintbrush pictures.

Although the scarlet paintbrush is iconic to Glacier, it does not only grow in this remote, mountain region. In fact, this wildflower grows throughout the Pacific Northwest and was named Wyoming’s State Flower on January 31st, 1917.

Paintbrush Identification

Identifying this wildflower is easy and no guidebook is needed. While other varieties can be orange, pink, yellow or white, the primary breed of paintbrush that grow in Glacier National Park is scarlet red in color.

While one good picture of the paintbrush should suffice in identification advice, here are some additional identification tips:

Indian Paintbrush

Photo by Anne Elliot

  • Size – Half an inch to three feet tall
  • Petals – Approximately one inch long and clover like in shape
  • Habitat – Wide range of elevations and growing conditions, including meadows, riverbanks, open woods and along roadsides

Indian Paintbrush Legend

This wildflower has a unique legend. According to the Native Americans, long ago a young warrior tried to paint the sunset with his warpaints. But nature’s gorgeous colors were too much for him to match, so he asked The Great Spirit for help.

The Great Spirit endowed him with paintbrushes that matched the colors he needed. The young warrior then painted his sunsets and left his used brushes across the mountain meadows.

Native American Indian Paintbrush Uses

Like other wildflowers, the Native Americans used the paintbrush in every day life. While the stem is toxic and Indians were careful to avoid consuming it, they found plenty of uses including:

  • Using the flowers as a condiment
  • Treating rheumatism
  • Applying it to their hair to make it brighten it

More Wildflower Identification Information

Return back to Wildflower Identification

Here are some tips for identifying Purple Wild Flowers

Yellow Wildflowers are everywhere in Glacier! Learn the difference between them.

Orange Wildflowers aren’t nearly as plentiful in Glacier, but are plenty gorgeous!

Or return home from
Indian Paintbrush Identification to the Glacier National Park Travel Guide

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