Hoary Puccoon

Ojibway: Mayagi Mashkiki
Latin: Lithospermum canscens (Michx.) Lehm.Hoary-Puccoon-1

Common Names

  • Indian-paint
  • Indian-paint gromwell
Description

Herbaceous, early blooming prairie plant, which has a tendency to sprawl across the ground. The stems are covered with long white hairs. The leaves have sparse white hairs on their upper sides, ciliate hairs along their margins, and a white pubescence on their undersides. The flowers occur in showy clusters at the ends of major stems, and are bright yellow or yellowish orange. The root system consists of a central taproot.

Flowers
Hoary-Puccoon-2

Five regular parts and flower are up to 1.3 cm (0.5 in.) wide. The lower half is fused into a tube hiding the stamens. Flowers are arranged in a flat-topped cluster, and have no noticeable floral scent; April to June

Leaves

The leaves are alternate, and can reach 6 cm (2.3 in.) in length. Each leaf is narrow hairy and entire, having a prominent central vein, and absence of serration along the margins. They are oblong, with rounded tips, and are sessile at the base.

Height

15-45 cm (6-18 in.) tall.

Habitat

Dry open woods, thickets and glades. High quality habitats, such as virgin prairie remnants, otherwise it is rare or absent.

Range

Saskatchewan in the west to southern Ontario in the east and southward (primarily in the Mississippi Valley) to Georgia and Texas.

Discussion

The name ‘Puccoon’ is a Native American term applied to several plants used for making reddish pigment. Carolina Puccoon (L. Caroliniense) grows taller, has larger flowers and hairs, more narrow leaves and a wider range. This plant has a long taproot and seeds that look like little pieces of bone or ivory. The seeds from this plant can be used in rattles.