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Best time to travel to Colorado

Indian Paintbrush

Stunning red flowers add brilliant accents to Colorado landscapes

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This flower has many names: Indian paintbrush, Alpine paintbrush, prairie-fire, or castilleja. Its bright flowering clusters indeed resemble a paintbrush dipped into paint. It comes in red as well as pink, orange and yellow colors. Indian paintbrush blooms from May through July. It's abundant on the grasslands of Colorado as well as in the mountains, especially at Alpine meadows and woodlands. It can grow up to 22 inches (55 cm) high.

Indian Paintbrush is quite common in the southwestern part of Colorado. You can find lots of these bright flowers at Almont triangle and Flat Top, Crested Butte Mountain, Kebler Pass, Three Lakes Loop, West Maroon Pass, and Trail#403. San Juan Mountains is another good spot to enjoy Indian paintbrush in large concentration. Engineer Pass trail and the valley located above the town of Ouray are dotted with red flowers during the paintbrush blooming season in late July.

Interestingly, paintbrush is considered edible and was consumed by some of the Native American tribes. But that only concerns flowers, as roots and stems of the plant can be rather toxic.

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Last updated: by Olga Valchyshen