Castilleja affinis H.& A.   ssp. affinis


Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)




Indian Paintbrush


Coastal Paintbrush     

                                      March Photo


Plant Characteristics:  Perennial, stems rather few from a +/- woody base, rather stiff-pubescent, slender, with glandless hairs, 3-5 dm. tall; infl. hirsute; lvs. rather scabrous-pubescent, lanceolate, 3-9 cm. long, entire or with 1-3 pairs of slender lobes; bracts and calyces distally scarlet, the former with 2-3 pairs of lobes; calyx 18-25 mm. long, cleft medianly ca. halfway, laterally into linear-oblong to lance-ovate lobes 3-6 mm. long; corolla 2.5-3.5 cm. long, the galea 16-23 mm. long, finely pubescent dorsally, the lower lip 1.5-2 mm. long, dark green to brownish; caps ca. 12-13 mm. long.


Habitat:   Dry wooded or brushy slopes; Coastal Sage Scrub, Chaparral, etc.; n. L. Calif. to cent. Calif.  March-May.


Name:  Named for D. Castillejo, a professor of botany at Cadiz, Spain.  He died sometime before 1781.  Affinis means "bordering or related to."  (Dale 181).


General:  Rare in the study area having only been found in one location and this on the bluff below the burn area in Eastbluff. (my comments).      Castilleja spp. are usually found near rocks where rattlesnakes may lurk.  It was known as "snake friend" to the Nevada Indians.  (Murphy 50).      Many of the species, perhaps all, have flowers and seeds that may be eaten raw.  (Heizer and Elsasser, page not recorded).      The whole genus has suckers on the roots enabling the extraction of sustenance from the roots of other plants, an instance of partial parasitism.  (Dale 180).      Many, perhaps all, of the species have fls. that may be eaten raw, but the fls. of C. linariaefolia are supposed to be best.  It is the state flower of Wyoming.  When selenium is present in the soil, many of the species have the ability to absorb it.  Care should be taken, therefore, only to eat normal quantities.  (Kirk 77).      The genus Castilleja, consisting of facultative parasites, is widespread in western North America; about thirty-four species are native to California.  Although studies have shown that some Castilleja species are capable of surviving and reproducing in the greenhouse without a host, plants grown in this fashion are much less vigorous than those grown with hosts.  These are the kinds of situations that bring the terms obligate and facultative into question.  Should Castilleja be considered an obligate parasite because it is not known to occur without a host in its natural environment?  Or is it a facultative parasite because it can be grown in the laboratory without a host?   It has generally been believed that, while non-green parasites depend on the host for photosynthetic products as well as water and minerals, green parasites rely on the host only for water and minerals.  The effect of Castilleja on the host plant has not been adequately studied.  This effect has been assumed to be negligible when water is abundant.  Mills, James N. and Kummerow, Jochen.  "Root Parasitism In Indian Paintbrush." FREMONTIA, A Journal of the California Native Plant Society October 1988 pp. 12-14.       The 1993 Jepson Manual lists ssp. affinis, ssp. litoralis, and ssp. neglecta, while Munz, Flora So. Calif. lists var. affinis, var. contentiosa and ssp. insularis.  I confirmed, in 1994, that our local ssp. is affinis.  (my comment).      The Miwok Indians of central California pulled apart the flowers of Castilleja spp. and sipped the nectar from the center; they also gathered the seeds in June and stored them for the winter. They were eaten dry.  (Campbell 141, 163).       The larvae of the Variable Checkerspot butterfly, Euphydryas chalcedona, feed on various plants in the family Scrophulariaceae including Mimulus and  Castilleja.  (No author, sbnature, A Journal of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Spring 2004/Vol. 2 No. 1, 6-8).       About 200 species of the New World, with 1 going into Asia.  (Munz, Flora So. Calif. 793).        Many forms, some geographically isolated; hybridizes with other species.  (Hickman, Ed. 1018).       DNA studies have shown that the genus Castilleja belongs in family Orobanchaceae.  For additional information see Castilleja exserta.  my comment).


Text Ref:  Dale 180; Hickman, Ed. 1018; Munz, Calif. Flora. 671; Munz, Flora So. Calif. 793; Roberts 38.

Photo Ref:  March 3 85 # 12,13; April-May 94 # 16A.

Identity  By R. De Ruff, confirmed by F. Roberts.

First Found:  March 1983.


Computer Ref:  Plant Data 276

Have plant specimen.

Last edit 10/15/04.  




                              May Photo                                                         March Photo                                                          April Photo