Castilleja hispida

From Puget Prairie Plants
  • Scientific Name: Castilleja hispida
  • Family: Orobanchaceae
  • Common Names: harsh paintbrush
  • Codon: CASHIS

Photo by Rod Gilbert, 2006. Also featured on Main Page


Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Subkingdom: Viridiplantae
Phylum: Tracheophyta
Subphylum: Spermatophytina
Class: Magnoliopsida
Subclass: Asteranae
Order: Lamiales
Family: Orobanchaceae
Genus: Castilleja Mutis ex L. f.
Species: Castilleja hispida Benth.



Erect, perennial, hemiparasitic[2] herb with mostly unbranched stems and showy, terminal flowers growing from a woody base, finely villous, up to 60 cm tall.[3] Leaves alternate, lobed,[2] lanceolate, to 8.5 cm long.[4] Inflorescences are leafy bracteate, terminal spikes,[5] the bracts rounded and laterally lobed.[6] Bract and upper leaf lobes mostly occurring past mid-leaf.[6] Flowers zygomorphic; calyx 4-lobed, unequal, brightly colored; corolla tubular, bilabiate; stamens 5, didanymous, epipetalous; ovary superior, becoming a loculicidal capsule.[5]

Bloom Period

Late April - August[3]


Both sides of the Cascades, British Columbia to Oregon, east to Montana.[3]


Prairies, grassy slopes and forest openings, low to mid elevation.[3]


Ecology and Wildlife

Pollinator food source. Important host plant for the federally endangered Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly. High palatability for browsing and grazing animals.

First Nations

Used to trap hummingbirds after being covered with snail slime, as well as its nectar being a source of candy for the Nitinaht.[7]



Castilleja hispida seed
Photo Credit Lisa Hintz


Seed sample from: 2011

Average Measurement: 1.5 x 0.9 x 0.9

Measurement Range: L: 1.1 – 2, W: 0.6 – 1.2, D: 0.6 – 1.1


Shape: Seed coat cone shaped, tapered at hilum, broadening at opposite apex. Inner seed rice shaped.

Color: Tan seed coat, inner seed slightly darker.

Surface: Seed coat papery and honeycombed with slight luster. Inner seed laterally striate and matte.

Could be confused with: Castilleja levisecta

Latitudinal Cross Section: elliptical CAHI lat.png

Longitudinal Cross Section: obovate CAHI long.png

Basic Explanations and Assumptions:

The dimensions for the seeds are length x width x depth. The location of the hilum is used as the base of the seed, and the length is measured from hilum to the opposite apex. Where a style is present, the length is measured from the hilum to the bottom of the style. Width is measured at a right angle to the length at the widest part. Depth is measured at a right angle to the intersection of height and width lines.

Measurements included are the mean average for each measurement of ten separate seeds.

All measurements in millimeters unless otherwise noted.

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  1. Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved from
  2. 2.0 2.1 Bowcutt, F., & Hamman, S. (2016). Vascular Plants of the South Sound Prairies. p. 107
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 WTU Herbarium, Burke Museum, & University of Washington. Retrieved from
  4. Flora of North America. Retrieved from
  5. 5.0 5.1 Hitchcock, C. L., Cronquist, A., Giblin, D., & Legler, B. et al. (2018). Flora of the Pacific Northwest: an illustrated manual. Seattle: University of Washington Press.p. 498.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Hitchcock, C. L., Cronquist, A., Giblin, D., & Legler, B. et al. (2018). Flora of the Pacific Northwest: an illustrated manual. Seattle: University of Washington Press. p. 505.
  7. Native American Ethnobotany Database. Retrieved from