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Wyoming State Flower

Indian Paint Brush Castilleja linariaefolia Adopted:1917
Wyoming State Flower: Indian Paintbrush
Wyoming State Flower: Indian Paint Brush
© 1980 Gary A. Monroe. Used with permission.

Adoption of the Wyoming State Flower

The Indian paintbrush adopted by the Wyoming Legislature met with some staunch opposition but in the end, prevailed to become the official flower.

In polls of Wyoming schoolchildren, the fringed gentian proved to be a favorite and it served as an unofficial state flower in the early years of the 20th century.

But, Wyoming had no official state flower and it was felt by many, among them the Daughters of the American Revolution in Wyoming, that it was important to choose one. After all, over half of the states had already designated a state flower by 1916.

The Wyoming Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution put their support behind the Indian paintbrush. The University of Wyoming's Dr. Grace Raymond Hebard drafted the legislation and found a sponsor for the bill.

One of the country's leading botanists, Dr. Aven Nelson, also of the University of Wyoming, objected to the adoption of the Indian paintbrush however. He made his objections known in the Wyoming School Journal of 1917.

  • Indian paintbrushes were not common throughout the state.
  • There were too many varieties and only an expert could tell them apart.
  • They were parasitic, feeding on the roots of other plants.
  • There was no widespread support for the plant.
  • Unofficial, the fringed gentian chosen by Wyoming schoolchildren was a sentimental favorite.
Greater Fringed Gentia (Gentianopsis crinita (Froel.) Ma
Greater Fringed Gentia (Gentianopsis crinita (Froel.) Ma
Robert H. Mohlenbrock @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database
USDA SCS. 1989. Midwest wetland flora: Field office
illustrated guide to plant species. Midwest National
Technical Center, Lincoln, NE.

Dr. Nelson favored adoption of a flower that was common throughout the state and one that could be grown in gardens and suggested the columbine or the schoolchildren's favorite, the fringed gentian as options.

Dr. Hebard, lobbying for the Indian paintbrush, was a powerful opponent however. Political science professor, civil engineer, historian, author, Wyoming's first woman attorney, University Librarian, Head of the Department of Political Economy, suffragette, Grace Hebard was a force to be reckoned with. She lobbied hard for the Indian paintbrush, even commissioning a New York artist to paint a picture of the flower for the legislators.

The State of Wyoming, by an act of the Fourteenth State Legislature convened in Cheyenne and approved on January 31, 1917, made the Indian paintbrush (Castilleja linariaefolia) the official state flower of Wyoming.

After the Indian paintbrush was adopted, Dr. Hebard presented her commissioned painting to the state.

Wyoming's Indian paint brush (Castillija linariaefolia) is also referred to as the desert paintbrush, the Wyoming desert paintbrush, Wyoming paintbrush, the Linaria-leaved Indian Paintbrush, and, as indicated in the Wyoming statute, the Indian paint brush.

The Wyoming Statutes

The following information is excerpted from the Wyoming Statutes, Title 8, Chapter 3, Section 8-3-104.

Additional Information

Wyoming State Flower: Indian Paintbrush
Wyoming State Flower: Indian Paint Brush
© 1977 Gary A. Monroe. Used with permission.

Plant Profile for Castilleja linariifolia Benth. (Wyoming Indian Paintbrush): USDA, NRCS. 2004. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 (http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

Castilleja linariaefolia Benth.: Plants for a Future: Edible, medicinal and useful plants for a healthier world.

Rocky Mountain Herbarium: Home of the Rocky Mountain Herbarium.

Photographs: Additional photographs of Castillega linariaefolia from the Digital Library Project of the University of California, Berkeley.

Wyoming Native Plant Society: Home of the Wyoming Native Plant Society.

Aven Nelson of Wyoming: Biography of Aven Nelson by Roger Miller, 1984.

State Flower List: List of all of the state flowers.

State Birds & Flowers 1000-pc Puzzle: Created at the request of The National Wildlife Federation this design is a beautiful and informative puzzle featuring every state bird perched on the appropriate state flower.

State Birds and Flowers Coloring Book by Annika Bernhard - 51 accurately detailed, copyright-free renderings include national bird (eagle) and flower (rose) plus 50 state birds and flowers.

U. S. State Flowers in Cross Stitch by Gerda Bengtsson - Botanically correct cross stitch designs of state flowers of the 50 States.

Quilting Flowers of the States by Sue Harvey - A lovely 12-inch flower block for each of the 50 states. Techniques used are piecing, appliqué, paper-piecing and three-dimensional techniques.

Plants, Seeds & Flowers: Bulbs, seeds, plants, fertilizer, plant containers and more.

Gardening Tools: Pruners, rakes, shovels, hoes, trowels, cultivators and tillers, greenhouses, yard carts and more.

State Names, Seals, Flags, and Symbols: A Historical Guide, Third Edition - Benjamin F. Shearer and Barbara S. Shearer, Greenwood Press, 2002

State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers and Other Symbols: A Study based on historical documents giving the origin and significance of the state names, nicknames, mottoes, seals, flowers, birds, songs, and descriptive comments on the capitol buildings and on some of the leading state histories, Revised Edition - George Earlie Shankle, Ph.D., The H.W. Wilson Company, 1938 (Reprint Services Corp. 1971)


Source: The Wyoming Statutes, (http://legisweb.state.wy.us/titles/statutes.htm), September 14, 2005
Source: State Names, Seals, Flags, and Symbols: A Historical Guide, Third Edition - Benjamin F. Shearer and Barbara S. Shearer, Greenwood Press, 2002
Source: State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers and Other Symbols: Revised Edition (Reprint)- George Earlie Shankle, Ph.D., The H.W. Wilson Company, 1938

 
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