FIRE-WHEEL Gaillardia pulchella

The Psalmist led the congregation of Israel to praise God for the beauty He provided. “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11).


Gaillardia pulchella

The fire-wheel is one that fares best when the soil is well drained. However, it does not do well during drought or very rainy seasons.

The fire-wheel, also called Gaillardia, stands about 2 feet tall. It is unusually hairy and may be an irritant to sensitive skin. Each stem bears one bloom, located at the very top. The three-toothed “petals” are actually rays, since it is a member of the Composite Family. The rusty red rays are variously marked with deep yellow, mostly on the toothed ends, as illustrated. The florets or disk flowers have stamens and pistils the same as do daisies, sunflowers, and black-eyed Susans.

The more official name for fire-wheel is showy Gaillardia, but it is also popularly known as Indian Blanket. This plant likes sandy soil, so to spy out this wildflower start looking on and around our granite outcroppings and the sandy hills. Further, if by chance you are wandering the sand dunes of Georgia’s coast they may be there, too. Do not despair if you missed the first August bloom because Fire-wheels bloom until frost.

The hairy leaves alternate up the stems. They are narrow and irregularly lobed (pinnately cut). The central vein of the leaf is a very light green. The plants often are found in large clusters and the large blooms overlap, thus obscuring the leaves. The 2- to 3-inch blooms make an ideal cut flower with vase life of six to 10 days.

This is a native of the central U.S. and has been cultivated by florists; however, it has escaped back into the wild from waste piles where dead plants were discarded.

Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. To purchase a two-volume set of books featuring his wildflower columns, visit The Sketching Pad in Olde Town Conyers, or call 770-929-3697 or text 404-824-3697. Email him at


I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.