Painting the Desert Red
Could the redrock landscape around Moab get any redder? In the springtime the answer is a definite yes! There are at least three flowering plants in canyon country with bright red blossoms that can be easily seen by hikers, mountain bikers, four-wheelers and observant motorists.
The Common Paintbrush (Castilleja chromosa) is probably the most widespread of the three. Paintbrush is a partial parasite and may attach itself to a host plant. It can be seen blooming right now up at Arches National Park.
Claret Cup cacti (Echinocereus triglochidiatus) are a little more difficult to find. I frequently find them in gravelly soil near rocky outcrops. Claret Cup are pollinated by hummingbirds and blossom only for a few weeks at the end of April and into early May.
Eaton’s Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii), with it’s tubular red petals, grows well in sandy washes. It’s pollinated by butterflies as well as hummingbirds and continues to show it’s flowers well into the summer.
As you expore the national parks and the desert around Moab this spring keep an eye out for these blooming plants and you’ll be seeing even more red in redrock country.