Indian warrior – another parasite


Following on from the weird parasite the other day and making a pair of plants we can’t hope to grow, here is the Indian warrior or Pedicularis densiflora. It is in the same family as snap dragons and is a close relative of the UK native yellow rattle (Rhinanthus) which is commonly sown in grassland before sowing wild flowers. This is because yellow rattle is a partial parasite on grass and weakens it so that wild flowers have a better chance to establish.

But back to the Indian warrior, this was found in northern California on a past visit, on a trip between Redding and Shasta, and it is also native to Oregon, usually growing in sun and prasitising the roots of shrubs in the ericaceae family. It is not a total parasite because it has green leaves that can manufacture nutrients, but it gets a boost from its host. The long leaves look a little like a very toothed dandelion leaf and the stems of deep red flowers have showy bracts, making this a very pretty plant.


The leaves in the photo above are the ones flushed with red. It flowers in spring and early summer (my pics were taken in May) and the flowers are apparently love by hummingbirds, though they are a bit close to the ground! Maybe they feed while they are resting.

For those that like to know, this is a plant that is used recreationally to give a ‘high’ or maybe a ‘low’ either made into ‘herbal’ tea or smoked, being a powerful muscle relaxant and maybe with other effects – I make no claims.






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