Orrin Morris: Indian paintbrush an endangered species not common in Georgia

Morris artwork for Oct. 21

Morris artwork for Oct. 21

Psalm 111:3 fits most of you who read this column: "Great are the works of the Lord; They are studied by all who delight in them." Such delight is what I seek to share in this column and I pray that is true for you, too. His works are marvelous to behold.While "walking" through the Bible provides the discovery of new insights, walking in the fields and woods this fall provides new discoveries, too. For many years I have taken for granted the abundant display of goldenrod. This fall, however, I have closely examined the fields and ditches nearby to identify the many different species of this beautiful gift of the Creator.

I plan to use several weeks starting in January to feature the five or six specific species of goldenrod when I complete my research. As I said above, His works are marvelous to behold.

The wildflower featured today was found when visiting a friend to view his wildflower garden. This plant was not in that garden but over among some weeds under the trees. It stood alone and was blooming later than the usual time span. I'm not sure how it got there, but it probably sprouted from seeds deposited by migrating birds a year earlier.INDIAN PAINTBRUSH

Castilleja coccineaThis wildflower is not common in this area of Georgia, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture database. It has been officially catalogued by the USDA in four counties along our northern borders with Tennessee and North Carolina. However, this does not mean its normal habitat is mountainous elevations. It has been catalogued in counties from Maine to Minnesota and southward to Louisiana and Florida.

Four states have Indian paintbrush on their endangered list and Maine suspects it is extinct there. The other three states are Connecticut, Kentucky and Maryland.

Indian paintbrush is also called painted cup but I like the former name. As an artist, I can envision the plant dipped in Carmine red and stroked across a canvas to create a brilliant sunset.

The plant I photographed that day was about 2 feet tall. The single stem was covered with deeply cut clasping leaves crowned with 1-inch tubular blooms amid extended bracts.

The blooms have two lips. The upper lip has two lobes that bend over the lower three-lobed lip. The brilliant red is provided by bracts rather than the blooms. The bracts extend beyond the blooms creating the brush effect noted in the common name.

The Indian paintbrush is in the snapdragon family and is most likely found in shady moist sandy soils. Extended droughts severely decrease the population of the species. The normal flowering period ranges from May to August.

Our Olde Town Fall Festival is scheduled for Oct. 22. My artwork will be on display in booth No. 54 with notecards featuring Rockdale and Newton scenes, showy wildflowers, and Christmas themes. Mention the name "wild indigo" or "Indian paintbrush" and get a 10 percent discount on all purchases of my cards.

Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. Notecards are available of the wildflowers published in the Citizen. His email is odmsketchingpad@yahoo.com or call him at 770-929-3697.