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Flora:Harsh Indian Paintbrush

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Harsh Indian Paintbrush on Dog Mountain (Steve Hart)
Castilleja hispida
Figwort Family

Alternate Names: Harsh Paintbrush

Color Green.jpg
Petals Greenfour.jpg
Origin Native.jpg
Status Common.jpg




Paintbrushes look like bright red or orange flowers. In reality, all of the brightness are modified leaves known as bracts. The actual flowers are tubular green affairs that sometimes emerge from the bracts.

Hamilton Mountain (Steve Hart)
Hamilton Mountain (Steve Hart)
Dog Mountain (Steve Hart)
Hamilton Mountain (Steve Hart)
Dog Mountain (Steve Hart)
Dog Mountain (Steve Hart)
Dog Mountain (Steve Hart)
Neahkahnie Mountain (Steve Hart)
Grassy Knoll (Steve Hart)

Tips on identifying Paintbrushes and Owl's Clover

Paintbrushes are unusual plants. The bright colors that we usually think of as flowers are actually specially adapted bracts. The true flowers are usually a light yellowish green and have five petals. Many paintbrushes are partially parasitic on other plants. Plants from the same genus that lack the brightly colored bracts are often called Owl's Clover.

very little hair;non-notched leaves; grows above 3000 feet Giant Red Indian Paintbrush Castilleja miniata var. miniata
very little hair;non-notched leaves; grows near the coast Dixon's Paintbrush Castilleja miniata var. dixonii
hairy;upper leaves have a large lobe on each side and often a small tip lobe on each side Harsh Indian Paintbrush Castilleja hispida
3-5 lobe leaves;pink to rose bracts;grows in subalpine and alpine areas Small Flowered Paintbrush Castilleja parviflora
upper leaves notched;green flower extends beyond bracts;grows in subalpine meadows Bog Paintbrush Castilleja suksdorfii
deeply cut, hairy leaves, with lateral lobes as wide as the center, often shaped like a cross;grows in rocky areas over 3000 feet Frosted Paintbrush Castilleja pruinosa
very deeply cut leaves, with lateral lobes as wide as the center;grows in rocky areas over 3000 feet Cliff Indian Paintbrush Castilleja rupicola
three lobed leaves, center lobe wider;magenta colored bracts Henry Indian Paintbrush Castilleja parviflora var. oreopola
5-7 lobed leaves;bright yellow bracts almost glow;bracts overlay each other making narrow plant top;threatened in Washington, may be extinct in Oregon Golden Paintbrush Castilleja levisecta
small plant;narrow green leaves;very light yellow-green bracts;yellow flowers;grows in the Wallowa Mountains Wallowa Paintbrush Castilleja chrysantha
small plant;narrow green leaves;almost white bracts;white flowers;grows in eastern Washington and Oregon Cusick's Paintbrush Castilleja cusickii
green, two lobed leaves;yellow-green bracts;white flowers;grows in eastern Oregon Sticky Paintbrush Castilleja glandulifera
branches stems;hairy, multi-lobed leaves with a gray cast;bright red bracts;red flowers;grows in eastern Oregon Desert Paintbrush Castilleja chromosa
narrow leaves with wrinkled edges;bracts have green bases, yellow band, bright red tips;grows in eastern and southern Oregon Wavy Leaved Paintbrush Castilleja applegatei
shrubby;hairy;narrow pale leaves with a yellow cast;light yellow bracts;grows in eastern Washington;parasitic on Stiff Sagebrush Thompson's Paintbrush Castilleja thompsonii
dark, purplish leaves;yellow-green bracts with white tips;yellow flowers with red tips;grows near the ocean Johnny Nip Castilleja ambigua
yellow-green leaves;green bracts;white flowers Hairy Owl's Clover Castilleja tenuis
bright green, narrow leaves;green bracts with white tips;white flowers Narrowleaf Owl's Clover Castilleja attenuata

There are other Paintbrushes more common in southern Oregon.


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