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Red paintbrush Castilleja miniata close.jpg
Castilleja miniata
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Orobanchaceae
Subtribe: Castillejinae
Genus: Castilleja
Mutis ex L.f.

About 200, see text


Euchroma Nutt.
Gentrya Breedlove & Heckard[1]

Castilleja, commonly known as paintbrush, Indian paintbrush, or prairie-fire, is a genus of about 200 species of annual and perennial herbaceous plants native to the west of the Americas from Alaska south to the Andes, northern Asia, and one species as far west as the Kola Peninsula in northwestern Russia. These plants are classified in the broomrape family Orobanchaceae (following major rearrangements of the order Lamiales starting around 2001; sources which do not follow these reclassifications may place them in the Scrophulariaceae). They are hemiparasitic on the roots of grasses and forbs. The generic name honors Spanish botanist Domingo Castillejo.[2]


Castilleja species are eaten by the larvae of some lepidopteran species, including Schinia cupes (which has been recorded on C. exserta) and Schinia pulchripennis (which feeds exclusively on C. exserta), and checkerspot butterflies, such as Euphydryas species.[3][4] Pollinators aid these plants in reproduction, with insects visiting the flowers, as well as hummingbirds for some species.[5]

Castilleja species can play an important role in plant community dynamics and multitrophic interactions. For example, Castilleja hemiparasitic reliance on other plant species may affect competition and dominance among other plant species in its community.[6] Additionally, the foliage of some Castilleja species naturally contains defensive compounds that are sequestered in the tissues of larvae of specialist insect species that have developed a tolerance for these compounds and are able to consume the foliage.[3][4] These sequestered compounds then confer chemical protection against predators to larvae.[3][4]


Seeds of putative Castilleja levisecta × Castilleja hispida hybrid

Some species in the Castilleja genus are able to hybridize, especially when ploidy levels match, and hybrids may produce viable seed.[7][8][9] This hybridization potential has been identified as a threat to the genetic integrity of certain endangered Castilleja species.[8]


The flowers of Indian paintbrush are edible, and were consumed in moderation by various Native American tribes as a condiment with other fresh greens. These plants have a tendency to absorb and concentrate selenium in their tissues from the soils in which they grow, and can be potentially very toxic if the roots or green parts of the plant are consumed. Highly alkaline soils increase the selenium levels in the plants. Indian paintbrush has similar health benefits to consuming garlic, though only if the flowers are eaten in small amounts and in moderation.[10]


Castilleja linariifolia is the state flower of Wyoming.[11]

Selected species[edit]

Castilleja affinis.jpg Castilleja affinis Coast Indian paintbrush
Castilleja ambigua.jpg Castilleja ambigua Paintbrush owl's clover
Castilleja angustifolia 1.jpg Castilleja angustifolia Northwestern Indian paintbrush
Castilleja annua Annual Indian paintbrush
Applegate paintbrush Castilleja applegatei flowerhead-and-wavy leaves.jpg Castilleja applegatei Applegate's Indian paintbrush, wavyleaf Indian paintbrush
Castilleja aquariensis Aquarius Plateau Indian paintbrush
Castillejaarachnoidea.jpg Castilleja arachnoidea Cobwebby Indian paintbrush
Castilleja arvensis (10539530484).jpg Castilleja arvensis Field Indian paintbrush
Castilleja attenuata.jpg Castilleja attenuata Narrowleaf owl's clover
Castilleja beldingii
Castilleja bella 7.jpg Castilleja bella Arteaga Indian paintbrush
Castilleja brevistyla.jpg Castilleja brevistyla
Castilleja campestris.jpg Castilleja campestris vernal pool Indian paintbrush
Castilleja caudata (7833509798).jpg Castilleja caudata Port Clarence Indian paintbrush
Castilleja cervina Deer Indian paintbrush
Castilleja christii TPrendusi lg.jpg Castilleja christii Christ's Indian paintbrush
Desert paintbrush Castilleja chromosa close front.jpg Castilleja chromosa Desert Indian paintbrush, desert paintbrush
Castillejacinerea.jpg Castilleja cinerea Ashgray Indian paintbrush
Castilleja coccinea.jpg Castilleja coccinea Scarlet Indian paintbrush, Scarlet painted-cup
Castilleja cusickii.jpg Castilleja cusickii Cusick's Indian paintbrush
Castilleja densiflora.jpg Castilleja densiflora
Castilleja ecuadorensis
Castilleja elegans (6186486989).jpg Castilleja elegans Elegant Indian paintbrush
Castilleja elmeri 7878.JPG Castilleja elmeri Elmer's Indian paintbrush
Castilleja exserta 8031.JPG Castilleja exserta Purple owl's clover, purple Indian paintbrush, exserted Indian paintbrush, escobita, formerly in Orthocarpus
Castillejafoliolosa.jpg Castilleja foliolosa Texas Indian paintbrush[12]
Castilleja fruticosa
Castilleja fulva Elko Indian paintbrush
Castilleja grisea.jpg Castilleja grisea
Castilleja guadalupensis (extinct)
Castilleja hispida 5187.JPG Castilleja hispida Harsh Indian paintbrush
Castilleja hyetophila Coastal red Indian paintbrush
Castilleja hyperborea Northern Indian paintbrush
Entire Leaf Indian Paintbrush.jpg Castilleja indivisa Entireleaf Indian paintbrush, Texas paintbrush
Castillejaintegra.JPG Castilleja integra Wholeleaf Indian paintbrush
Garañona (Castilleja integrifolia).jpg Castilleja integrifolia
Castilleja kaibabensis.jpg Castilleja kaibabensis Kaibab Indian paintbrush
Castilleja kerryana
Castilleja lacera
Castilleja lanata hololeuca 2.jpg Castilleja lanata Sierra woolly Indian paintbrush
Castilleja lasiorhyncha
Castillejalatifolia.jpg Castilleja latifolia
Castilleja lauta Rosy paintbrush
Castillejalemmonii.jpg Castilleja lemmonii Lemmon's Indian paintbrush
Castilleja levisecta.jpg Castilleja levisecta Golden paintbrush
Narrow-leaved Indian Paintbrush (NGM XXXI p515).jpg Castilleja linariifolia Narrowleaf Indian paintbrush
Castilleja lineariiloba.jpg Castilleja lineariiloba
Castilleja lutescens.jpg Castilleja lutescens Stiff yellow Indian paintbrush
Castilleja mendocinensis.jpg Castilleja mendocinensis
Castilleja miniata 0637.JPG Castilleja miniata Greater red Indian paintbrush
Castilleja minor ssp minor 1.jpg Castilleja minor Smallflower Indian paintbrush, lesser Indian paintbrush
Castillejamollis.JPG Castilleja mollis Softleaf Indian paintbrush
Castilleja mutis
Alpine paintbrush Castilleja nana green form.jpg Castilleja nana Alpine paintbrush
Castilleja neglecta.jpg Castilleja neglecta Tiburon Indian paintbrush
Castilleja nubigena
Western Yellow Paintbrush (Castilleja occidentalis) at Waterton Lakes National Park - Flickr - Jay Sturner.jpg Castilleja occidentalis Western Indian paintbrush
Castilleja ophiocephala
Castilleja pallescens inverta (5445775710).jpg Castilleja pallescens Pallid Indian paintbrush
Castilleja pallida v lapponica.jpg Castilleja pallida var. lapponica Boreal Indian paintbrush
Castilleja paramensis
Castilleja parviflora 1283.JPG Castilleja parviflora Small-flowered Indian paintbrush
Flickr - brewbooks - Castilleja parvula (1).jpg Castilleja parvula
Castilleja peirsonii Peirsons paintbrush red closeup.jpg Castilleja peirsonii Peirson's paintbrush
Castilleja pilosa
Castilleja plagiotoma Mojave Indian paintbrush
Castilleja praeterita
Castillejapruinosa.jpg Castilleja pruinosa
Castilleja pumila.jpg Castilleja pumila Lancetilla del Páramo
Castilleja purpurea.jpg Castilleja purpurea
Castilleja raupii.jpg Castilleja raupii Raup's Indian paintbrush, Raup's painted-cup
Castillejarhexifolia.jpg Castilleja rhexiifolia Rhexia-leaf Indian paintbrush, splitleaf Indian paintbrush
Castillejarubicundula.jpg Castilleja rubicundula Cream sacs
Castilleja rubida Purple alpine paintbrush, Wallowa alpine paintbrush
Castilleja rupicola 1.jpg Castilleja rupicola Cliff Indian paintbrush
Castilleja salsuginosa Monte Neva Indian paintbrush
Castilleja schizotricha.jpg Castilleja schizotricha
Pale Indian paintbrush - Andrey Zzharkikh.jpg Castilleja septentrionalis Labrador Indian paintbrush, northern paintbrush
Castilleja sessiliflora Colorado.jpg Castilleja sessiliflora Downy Indian paintbrush, downy paintbrush
Castilleja socorrensis
Castilleja subinclusa 7806.JPG Castilleja subinclusa
Castilleja suksdorfii 5912.JPG Castilleja suksdorfii Suksdorf's Indian paintbrush
Castilleja sulphurea habitus.jpg Castilleja sulphurea Sulphur Indian paintbrush
Castillejatenuis.jpg Castilleja tenuis Hairy owl's clover
Castilleja thompsonii 9759.JPG Castilleja thompsonii Thompson's Indian paintbrush
Castilleja tolucensis (Orobanchaceae).jpg Castilleja tolucensis
Castilleja unalaschensis 4351.png Castilleja unalaschcensis Alaska Indian paintbrush
Castilleja wightii flower.jpg Castilleja wightii Wight's paintbrush
Castilleja yukonis Yukon Indian paintbrush


  1. ^ "Genus: Castilleja Mutis ex L. f." Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2006-03-30. Archived from the original on 2009-05-06. Retrieved 2010-10-22.
  2. ^ Quattrocchi, Umberto (2000). CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names. Vol. I: A-C. CRC Press. p. 455. ISBN 978-0-8493-2675-2.
  3. ^ a b c Haan, Nate L.; Bakker, Jonathan D.; Bowers, M. Deane (14 January 2021). "Preference, performance, and chemical defense in an endangered butterfly using novel and ancestral host plants". Scientific Reports. 11 (992): 992. Bibcode:2021NatSR..11..992H. doi:10.1038/s41598-020-80413-y. PMC 7809109. PMID 33446768.
  4. ^ a b c Haan, Nate L.; Bakker, Jonathan D.; Bowers, M. Deane (May 2018). "Hemiparasites can transmit indirect effects from their host plants to herbivores". Ecology. 99 (2): 399–410. doi:10.1002/ecy.2087. JSTOR 26624251. PMID 29131311. Retrieved 2022-05-02.
  5. ^ Benda, Christopher. "Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea)". United States Department of Agriculture.
  6. ^ Schmidt, Natalie (2016). Parasitic plants and community composition: how Castilleja levisecta affects, and is affected by, its community (PDF) (Doctoral dissertation). University of Washington. Retrieved 2022-05-02.
  7. ^ Babikova, Zdenka; Gilbert, Lucy; Bruce, Toby; Dewhirst, Sarah; Pickett, John A.; Johnson, David (April 2014). "Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and aphids interact by changing host plant quality and volatile emission". American Journal of Botany. 99 (12). JSTOR 23321298. Retrieved 2022-05-02.
  8. ^ a b Strategy and Guidance for Minimizing Hybridization Risk of Castilleja levisecta (CALE) with Castilleja hispida (CAHI) While Advancing Conservation of CALE and Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly (Euphydryas editha taylori; TCB) (PDF) (Report). U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Washington Department of Natural Resources. 2021. Retrieved 2022-05-02.
  9. ^ Loretta Fisher, Jonathan D. Bakker, and Peter W. Dunwiddie (2015). An Assessment of Seed Production and Viability of Putative Castilleja levisecta × C. hispida Hybrids (Report). Center for Natural Lands Management and University of Washington. doi:10.13140/RG.2.1.4327.2081. Retrieved 2022-05-02.{{cite report}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  10. ^ Tilford, Gregory L. (1997). Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West. Mountain Press Publishing. pp. 82–83. ISBN 978-0-87842-359-0.
  11. ^ Wyoming Statute 8-3-104 (Title 8) Archived 2008-05-11 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "PLANTS Profile for Castilleja foliolosa (Texas Indian paintbrush)". United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved March 9, 2013.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]