Indian Blanket

Gaillardia pulchella

Summary 4

These vibrant colored flowers that look like pinwheels on a light green stalk are also known as an Indian blanket. This is the most commonly used name for this plant, the name has a hidden legend behind it about an Indian blanket maker. Then in Spanish they call this flower “Girasol Rojo” which means red sunflower. Lastly, they call this flower a firewheel, this is because of it’s vivid red, orange and yellow colors. The shape is like a wheel but on the inside the colors bleed into each other. The central disc is red then the outer ray florets are yellow. The transition shade between those parts of the flower is orange. Therefore this can create the image of fire. These plants can grow up to 1-2 ft tall. It has a wooden like base with branched stems that are hairy. There are sometimes leafs attached that are usually 4-8 centimeters long. The flower heads are 1-2 inches with red/orange rays that are yellow at the tip. Each yellow tip has a count of three teeth. As for the center of the flower it is a brownish red color with a little bit of yellow in the middle. Also, the flower can have the form of being double-flowered which means they have flowers growing within flowers.
The Gaillardia Pulchella is apart of the Asteraceae family which is one of the most diverse groups of plants. The cycle of life can vary when it comes to this flower. Their duration can be biennial, annual or perennial. Annual means they live through one whole growing season in about a year. While Biennials take two years to complete their growing cycle. Then perennials are flowers that regrow every season so they live beyond two years. This takes place in habitats that are parched and open. Meaning warm areas that have sand, loam or calcareous soils. Calcareous means the soil is composed of calcium carbonate which creates a chalky substance. These habitats are mostly founded (native) in the southern plains and Gulf Coast of the U.S. To people these flowers contribute natural beauty to the world. Meanwhile, the Indian blanket flower is very beneficial to bees and even caterpillars as a food source. Since the duration of the plants causes them to bloom frequently and early within the season it is a good season long source of pollen and nectar. It is available to different kinds of bees because there are plenty who are attracted to the bright colors. The flower attracts butterflies because of the vivid colors as well. The only difference is the butterfly’s use their patterns and colors to try to mimic the pedals of the Indian blanket flower.
The Indian blanket flower has a legend believed by the natives. The name came from the story of an old man who weaved beautiful blankets. People all around the world would travel miles just to trade for one of those blankets. However, the old man was aware that his time on earth was going to end soon. He created a burial blanket for himself that his family would wrap him in when he dies. The blanket consisted of the colors he was famous for such as yellows, reds, and browns. But the blanket was not only to be wrapped in it was also a gift to the Great Spirit. When the old man had passed away the great spirit loved the creation and wanted it to be shown beyond the happy hunting grounds. This was a way for the Great Spirit to give back to those the old man left behind. When spring came wildflowers of the colors and design similar to the blanket the old man had made bloomed on his grave and began to spread forever.
Another legend of the Indian Blanket flower is a story believed by the Aztecs. There was once good flowers that were praised and loved by the Aztecs. But when the Spanish was on a conquest for colonizing America they attacked the Aztec empire. A war had broke out and the civilization crumbled. The flowers were then stained with blood from the people who perished. Tying back to how the flowers attract butterflies is connected to the tale. They say of butterflies dance around the flower it represents the spirit of the Aztecs and their never ending love for the flower.
The Indian blanket flower is also resourceful to humans today as remedies. For inflammation of your stomach or intestines you can make a tea from the roots of flower. If you have a skin disorder what you would do is ground the root of the plant into powder or chew it. After you would apply it to the skin. The tea can also heal sore eyes or sore nipples for mothers who have been breast feeding their child. A native people tribe named Kiowa and many others say this plant is a form of “good luck”.

Sydney, Menaul High School

Work Cited (Photo 1)

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Mary Keim, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA),
  2. (c) Javi Gonzalez, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC),
  3. (c) saltysyd2001, all rights reserved, uploaded by saltysyd2001,
  4. Adapted by albuquerqueherbalism from a work by (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA),

More Info

Range Map

iNat Map

Color red, yellow