Gaillardia pulchella is also known as Indian Blanket, Firewheel, Indian Blanket flower or Sundance. The flowers literally cover the landscape with blankets of bright fiery colors. They are beautiful both as an individual flowers, or in abundant spreads. They are easy to grow, last long in the fields or as a bouquet in a vase. They are beneficial to pollinators, have medicinal use and warrant special mention. It‘s no wonder people before us have told many stories to honor their existence………
1 – An Aztec Tale
Long ago, in the ancient times of the Aztecs, bright yellow flowers grew. These vibrant flowers were a favorite. Children played in the fields that were beautiful with the wildflower blooms. Young ladies collected the flowers as their children played and decorated themselves with necklaces of these yellow flowers. Then Cortez arrived and conquered the nation. The blood of the Aztec people spilled and splattered onto yellow flowers, staining them red. This story, explaining how the Firewheel flower got its color is told by Elizabeth Silverthorne in her book titled Legends and Lore of Texas Wildflowers. ( see full reference below.)
2 – An Indian Myth
An Indian chief went to war. In his absence, his wife prayed to the Great Spirit for his safety. She wove a blanket of her prayers using red and orange thread. At this time, the chief’s young daughter wandered into the woods and lost her way. She prayed to the Great Spirit to cover her with the blanket through the night as she slept alone. When the little girl woke up she was covered in an array of flowers colored in warm tones of reds and orange. Her father found her covered in these red and orange flowers on his return. That is why the flowers became know as the Indian Blanket Flowers. This story is also retold by Elizabeth Sliverthorne – Legends and Lore of Texas Wildflowers. ( full reference below)
3 – The Blanket Weaver
The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center recounts an old tale of an old blanket maker in the tribe of the plains Comanche. An old man was a Blanket weaver. He was very gifted in his ability to weave. Many knew of his exceptional talent and came from far and wide to trade for one of his creations. The old man never took on an apprentice. Towards the end of his days, when he knew his time on this earth was drawing to an end he wove his own burial blanket. When the old man died, his loved ones wrapped him in the blanket, made of his favorite colors – browns, yellows and reds. The blanket was a gift to the Great Spirit.
The Great Spirit was very pleased with the gift but also sad at the realization that the old man’s loved ones would no longer have the chance to admire the old man’s wonderful talents. The Great Spirit decided to give the gift back to those left on earth. The next spring, wildflowers sprung up at the grave site of the old man and spread across the land. The flowers mimicked his favorite woven patterns and colors and became known as Indian Blanket flowers.
For more on wildflowers at Green Valley Ranch READ HERE
Silverthorne Elizabeth, Legends & Lore of Texas Wildflowers, 2002, Texas A & M University Press.
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