Devil’s Paintbrush

Orange Hawkweed

Orange Hawkweed © 2008 Bo Mackison

Orange Hawkweed is often referred to as Devil’s Paintbrush. It was named so by farmers, who see the weedy flower as being a troublesome beauty. It naturalized from Europe, probably in the 17th century mixed in with seed crops, and spreads quite aggressively and quickly, so it is considered ecologically invasive.

Ox Eye Daisies and Orange Hawkweed

Ox Eye Daisies and Orange Hawkweed © 2008 Bo Mackison

It’s orange color, making it stand out against the many yellow flowers found blooming at this time, adds to the open prairie’s color, but also chokes out native plants that cannot compete. The Hawkweed secretes a toxic substance that inhibits many flowers from growing very near.

Obviously the equally invasive ox-eye daisy doesn’t mind too much. How come so many of the flowers I see seem to be of the invasive sort? I have noticed over the years – I’ve been cataloguing wildflowers in Wisconsin since 1977 – that I am seeing the native flowers, but many in lesser numbers.

Orange Hawkweed Buds

Orange Hawkweed Buds © 2008 Bo Mackison

Here is the Orange Hawkweed in bud. It does make for a rather fancy weed. Its flowers are short lasting, each blossom lasting only one day.

These photos were taken along the shoreline of Green Bay in Peninsula State Park near Fish Creek, Wisconsin. The over-welcome visitors are being monitored by park rangers, and so far 3 flowers have made the removal list. (Garlic Mustard, Eurasian Honeysuckle and Phragmites)

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. It sure is a pretty blossom though! Great photos!

  2. Amazing photos and those oranges are perfect!

  3. Chris Osborne says:

    Like you said, the invasive ones are forcing the native ones out. It’s only natural that they’d be working toward being all you ever see.

  4. Gandalf says:

    Too bad it’s an invasive; the colors are beautiful.

  5. Beautiful but toxic, kinda of a neat contrast !!

  6. It’s amazing

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