Source of this flower's name is a mystery

Blanket Flower

Name: Blanket Flower

Scientific name: Gaillardia aristata

This fairly common wildflower is found throughout Southern Canada and Western and Northern United States. It is easy to recognize, and can be spotted now from low to middle elevations in the Blue Mountains.

The name Gaillardia is for a French botanist, and aristata refers to the spines on the plant's seeds. Blanket Flower seems to be the common name most often used in references, though there seems to be no explanation of where the name came from. Another common name sometimes used is Brown-eyed Susan, which is easier to understand given that in some areas the center for the flowering head is more brown than red.

The overall plant grows in clumps, with slender stems up to two feet long topped with the sunflower-like head about 3 inches across. The heads have around a dozen ray petals on the perimeter, though they look like more; each ray petal is rather broad and has 3 lobes at the tip. The ray petals are mostly yellow, though they usually have a little more red or purple color at thebase of the petals than shown in the photo. The center of the head is covered with approximately 100 tiny flowers which vary in color from brown to dark purple or dark brick-red. The lower stem and base of the plant bear somewhat narrow lance-shaped leaves about 3-5 inches long.

Some of the Pacific Northwest Indian tribes had a number of uses for this plant. Medicinal uses included treatment of kidney problems, venereal disease, and backache. Other uses included a dandruff shampoo.

Blanket Flower has been used as a garden flower in many areas, and is reported to be easy to grow from seed.

Where to find: It can be seen along the road going up out of Pendleton from the Southeast Eighth Street bridge, though it is already starting to go to seed there. It is fairly abundant right now along Yellowjacket Road starting before the road turns to gravel and on to where timber starts. Yellowjacket Road heads south just beyond the east edge of Pilot Rock.

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