New Mexico Wildflowers: Broomrape Family

Flowers are organized alphabetically by genus and species. Hover over a photo series to control the images.

Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja)

Two of the many species of paintbrush are shown here. The paintbrush (C. miniata) I saw in July 2017 was growing at about 10,300 feet; notice its fairly broad, flat leaves. In contrast, the paintbrush (C. integra) I found in April and June 2019 and in April 2020, at lower elevations, had narrow leaves partly curled up into tubes. The paintbrush I found in April 2019 was growing in the western foothills of the Sandia Mountains, about 6,300 feet. The example from Mesa Portales was growing in a canyon at about 7,100 feet.


Bear Corn (Conopholis Alpina)

Bear corn is a parasite on the roots of oak trees, and has lost its ability to produce chlorophyll. Spikes of yellowish flowers emerge from the ground. As the flowers turn brown and die, they reveal round capsules that contain tiny seeds. One of my pictures shows a few of the seed capsules.


As the name indicates, bears eat the "cobs" of seed capsules. The thousands of tiny seeds survive the trip through the bear's gut and are deposited in a new location as the bear wanders around (and specifically, while answering the famous rhetorical question). Thus, the plant serves as a food for bears, and bears serve as a way for the plant to spread its seeds. 


Fernleaf or Giant Lousewort (Pedicularis procera)

Easy to see where the "fernleaf" part of this plant's name came from. The not-very-red flowers nestle in among bracts (the pointed green things) that are longer than the flowers themselves.