I came across a blooming patch of ‘indian warrior’ (pedicularis densiflora), a.k.a. ‘warrior’s plume’, on the Sawyer Camp Trail this afternoon. These flowers did not have as many petals as the examples I see when I search Google. Since I didn’t see any petals littering the ground, I suspect that the local deer have been snacking on these plants.
The indian warrior is a parasitic plant native to Oregon and California. While it is capable of living on its own through photosynthesis, if given the opportunity the plant will attach its root system to other plants to obtain water and nutrients. Indian warrior particularly likes to grow on manzanita and madrone, and can sometimes be found near chamise. When the plant is not acting as a parasite it does not grow as robustly, which makes indian warrior relatively difficult to cultivate in gardens.
The following interesting fact comes from the book California Plants by Matt Ritter: “Pedicularis comes from the Latin pediculus, a louse, which refers to the widely held belief at the time of Linnaeus, who named the genus, that sheep sharing a field with Pedicularis would be infested with lice.”