Coastal meadow with colour variations of Indian paintbrush (Castilleja miniata), yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Pacific silverweed (Argentina pacifica), Port Houghton, Southeast Alaska, USA.
Indian paintbrush is a common plant in coastal areas of Southeast Alaska, and it illuminates a frequently overcast monochrome landscape with its flaming red bracts that surround the flowers. There are many different species that are difficult to identify, and colour variations from red to orange to yellow in Alaska. They are hemiparasitic on grass roots. The plant evokes the Native American legend of a young brave who tried to paint the sunset with his warpaints. Frustrated that he could not match the brilliance of nature, he asked for guidance from the Great Spirit. The Great Spirit gave him paintbrushes laden with the colors he so desired. With these, he painted his masterpiece and left the spent brushes in fields across the landscape.