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Castilleja, commonly known as 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]

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
Tribe: Pedicularideae
Genus: Castilleja
Mutis ex L.f.

About 200, see text


Euchroma Nutt.
Gentrya Breedlove & Heckard[1]


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.


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 if only the flowers are eaten in small amounts and in moderation.[3]

The Ojibwe used a hairwash made from Indian paintbrush to make their hair glossy and full bodied, and as a treatment for rheumatism. The high selenium content of this plant has been cited as the reason for its effectiveness for these purposes.


Castilleja linariifolia is the state flower of Wyoming.[4]

Selected speciesEdit

  Castilleja affinis Coast Indian paintbrush
  Castilleja ambigua Paintbrush owl's clover
  Castilleja angustifolia Northwestern Indian paintbrush
Castilleja annua Annual Indian paintbrush
  Castilleja applegatei Applegate's Indian paintbrush, wavyleaf Indian paintbrush
Castilleja aquariensis Aquarius Plateau Indian paintbrush
  Castilleja arachnoidea Cobwebby Indian paintbrush
Castilleja arvensis
  Castilleja attenuata Narrowleaf owl's clover
  Castilleja brevistyla
  Castilleja campestris vernal pool Indian paintbrush
  Castilleja caudata Port Clarence Indian paintbrush
Castilleja cervina Deer Indian paintbrush
  Castilleja christii Christ's Indian paintbrush
  Castilleja chromosa Desert Indian paintbrush, desert paintbrush
  Castilleja cinerea Ashgray Indian paintbrush
  Castilleja coccinea Scarlet Indian paintbrush, Scarlet painted-cup
  Castilleja cusickii Cusick's Indian paintbrush
  Castilleja densiflora
Castilleja ecuadorensis
  Castilleja elegans Elegant Indian paintbrush
  Castilleja elmeri Elmer's Indian paintbrush
  Castilleja exserta Purple owl's clover, purple Indian paintbrush, exserted Indian paintbrush, escobita, formerly in Orthocarpus
  Castilleja foliolosa Texas Indian paintbrush[5]
Castilleja fruticosa
Castilleja fulva Elko Indian paintbrush
  Castilleja grisea
Castilleja guadalupensis (extinct)
  Castilleja hispida Harsh Indian paintbrush
Castilleja hyetophila Coastal red Indian paintbrush
Castilleja hyperborea Northern Indian paintbrush
  Castilleja indivisa Entireleaf Indian paintbrush, Texas paintbrush
  Castilleja integra Wholeleaf Indian paintbrush
  Castilleja kaibabensis Kaibab Indian paintbrush
Castilleja kerryana
Castilleja lacera
  Castilleja lanata Sierra woolly Indian paintbrush
Castilleja lasiorhyncha
  Castilleja latifolia
Castilleja lauta Rosy Paintbrush
  Castilleja lemmonii Lemmon's Indian paintbrush
  Castilleja levisecta Golden paintbrush
  Castilleja linariifolia Narrowleaf Indian paintbrush
  Castilleja lineariiloba
  Castilleja lutescens Stiff yellow Indian paintbrush
  Castilleja mendocinensis
  Castilleja miniata Greater red Indian paintbrush
  Castilleja minor Smallflower Indian paintbrush, lesser Indian paintbrush
  Castilleja mollis Softleaf Indian paintbrush
Castilleja mutis
  Castilleja nana Alpine paintbrush
  Castilleja neglecta Tiburon Indian paintbrush
Castilleja nubigena
  Castilleja occidentalis Western Indian paintbrush
  Castilleja pallescens Pallid Indian paintbrush
  Castilleja pallida var. lapponica Boreal Indian paintbrush
Castilleja paramensis
  Castilleja parviflora Small-flowered Indian paintbrush
  Castilleja parvula
  Castilleja peirsonii Peirson's paintbrush
Castilleja pilosa
Castilleja praeterita
  Castilleja pruinosa
  Castilleja pumila Lancetilla del Páramo
  Castilleja purpurea
  Castilleja raupii Raup's Indian paintbrush, Raup's painted-cup
  Castilleja rhexiifolia Rhexia-leaf Indian paintbrush, splitleaf Indian paintbrush
  Castilleja rubicundula Cream sacs
  Castilleja rupicola Cliff Indian paintbrush
Castilleja salsuginosa Monte Neva Indian paintbrush
  Castilleja schizotricha
  Castilleja septentrionalis Labrador Indian paintbrush, northern paintbrush
  Castilleja sessiliflora Downy Indian paintbrush, downy paintbrush
Castilleja socorrensis
  Castilleja subinclusa
  Castilleja suksdorfii Suksdorf's Indian paintbrush
  Castilleja sulphurea Sulphur Indian paintbrush
  Castilleja tenuis Hairy owl's clover
  Castilleja thompsonii Thompson's Indian paintbrush
  Castilleja wightii Wight's paintbrush
  Castilleja unalaschcensis Alaska 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. I: A-C. CRC Press. p. 455. ISBN 978-0-8493-2675-2.
  3. ^ Tilford, Gregory L. (1997). Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West. Mountain Press Publishing. pp. 82–83. ISBN 978-0-87842-359-0.
  4. ^ Wyoming Statute 8-3-104 (Title 8) Archived 2008-05-11 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "PLANTS Profile for Castilleja foliolosa (Texas Indian paintbrush)". United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved March 9, 2013.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit