Indian Blanket Flower

I love when late spring rolls around because my favorite wildflower appears. The Indian Blanket flower is also known as the Blanket Flower, Sundance Flower or the Firewheel. It is a small flower that resembles a daisy. You will find them in pastures, rocky areas and along the side of the road. They are very small, but in large numbers make a beautiful statement. Some people even plant them in their gardens as a border plant. I have never tried this, but am tempted. As with the Bluebonnets or any wildflowers, Indian Blankets would be considered a weed to most farmers/ranchers. This flower is the state flower of Oklahoma. It grows in several varieties extending from the southern plains into Mexico.

There is a lovely old Indian legend about the beginning of the Indian Blanket Flower. This is the legend I grew up knowing.

Legend of the Indian Blanket Maker

“The legend tells of an old Indian blanket maker whose talent for weaving produced such beautiful blankets that other Indians would travel many miles to trade for one. The old blanket maker had never taken an apprentice and when he realized he had only a short time left, he began weaving his own burial blanket. It blended his favorite browns, reds and yellows into the beautiful patterns for which he was so famous.
In time, the old man died and his family wrapped him in this blanket which was to be his gift to the Great Spirit when they met. The Great Spirit was very pleased because of the beauty of the gift but also saddened because he realized that only those in the Happy Hunting Ground would be able to appreciate the old blanket maker’s beautiful creation. So, he decided that he would give this gift back to those that the old Indian had left behind. The spring following the old man’s death, wildflowers of the colors and design of the old Indian’s blanket appeared in profusion on his grave to bloom and spread forever.”

Here is the Aztec legend that is popular in Mexico.

“Legend says that Indian blanket flowers were once a vibrant gold and a favorite of the Aztec people. When Cortez came and the Aztec civilization crumbled, the flowers were said to have caught the blood in pity for the innocent inhabitants that perished. Thus the reason the red stains remain on the flower today. It has also been said that some Mexicans believe certain butterflies that dance around the Indian blanket flower in bloom represents the spirit of the Aztecs and their unending gratitude for their favorite flower.”

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  1. I have this one growing in my flower bed from seeds a friend gave me. I never knew the name – or the story behind them. Beautiful.

    • weekendcowgirl says

      I am glad to know they will do well in a garden. They are wild here, but I would love some in my flowerbeds!

  2. Thanks for the information on this little flower. I’ve been taking photos of it for several years along the river trail where I walk. May I have your permission to reblog on my Curmudgeonly Professor blog? With all due credits, of course. Thanks. Dwight Blood

    • weekendcowgirl says

      I love the colors of these wildflowers the best. So much personality for a flower! Feel free to re-blog.

  3. i to am a huge admire of the indian blanket flower “Gaillardia pulchella” so much i have put together some musical notetations on a banjo with the help of 2 of my brothers help and the right drum beat (which you may have given to me ’bout the “sundance”). would you might know the tribe that began this tell. also i feel for the story of the Aztecs. you can find me on facebook. i injoyed this post.

  4. They are beautiful! Can you tell me more about the history, the full legend and so on? I’m doing it for a project and I would love to hear more about the Indian Blanket. Please and Thank you. ~<3~

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