Here's a few quick shots of wildflowers from the Pacific Northwest.
This is a species of Erigeron (fleabane), most likely E. speciosus (Aspen fleabane). Eri- means 'early' and -geron means 'old man.' The name was applied to this plant because the spring-blooming species' flowers turn gray quite quickly. Most plant people know that '-bane' in common names usually means that the plant has a history of medicinal or practical use. In this case, the flowers have been placed under rugs to deter fleas. As usual, I have no firsthand information on whether this works or not.
Next, we have Anaphalis margaritacea, or pearly everlasting:
The botanical name is derived from the Greek ana, which doesn't mean absent (like 'anaerobic') but upwards or above. Phalos is Greek for shining or white. The species name, which pops up in a lot of botanical nomenclature, is Latin for pearl.
This flower was all over Washington when I visited. It's easy to guess that this belongs to the Asteraceae family. Apparently, it has been used a tobacco substitute, perhaps when times were tough for lumberjacks or loggers of yore...
Below is Indian paintbrush (what a great, evocative name), or Castilleja miniata. There are over 200 species of Castilleja, all sharing their name with a Spanish botanist. These plants are semi-parisitic, and extract nutrients from the roots of nearby grasses and forbs.
This plant offers many folkloric uses. From wikipedia's entry on Castilleja:
The Chippewa Indians used a hairwash made from Indian Paintbrush to make their hair glossy and full bodied and as a treatment for rheumatism. The high selenium content of this plant has been cited as the reason for its effectiveness for these purposes. Nevada Indian Tribes used the plant to treat venereal diseases and to enhance the immune system. Various other tribes used the plant as its name suggests -- as a paintbrush .
Finally, please, please someone tell me what this is:
Whatever it is, the flower structure is really, really cool: see how the pistil splits in three? (The pistil is the female part of the flower - in the center; the stamen are the male parts and surround the pistil.)
If you know what this is, please comment below & tell me!