I found large patches of Indian Paintbrush on the grassy fringes of the shores of Lake Michigan in northern Wisconsin last weekend. It grows throughout the temperate zones of North America from May through July, especially in the prairies or meadows and in sandy areas.
Native Americans from many tribes used the plant for medicinal purposes. Chippewa brewed its leaves for a tea for rheumatism, Hopi women used the entire plant in a tea as a contraceptive, Navajos made a tea from the blossoms to treat burns and insect bites.
And according to a Native American legend, a young man was painting a picture of a sunset, but was unable to capture the vibrant orange hues to his satisfaction. He asked the Great Spirit for aid and he was given many paintbrushes dripping with vivid orange and red paints. When the artist finished his painting he tossed the brushes on the ground, and wherever a brush touched the earth an Indian Paintbrush plant appeared.