Castilleja hispida “Harsh Paintbrush” Orobanchaceae

Lolo National Forest, Bitterroot Mountains, MT
May 10, 2015
Robert Niese

There are three or four species of paintbrushes with red bracts in the Pacific Northwest. The two most common are the Harsh Paintbrush (C. hispida) and the Common Crimson Paintbrush (C. miniata). C. hispida has a dense coat of long, hispid hairs (which look lovely when back-lit!) and will always have lobed leaves on the upper third of their stems. Conversely C. miniata is often less hairy and will have unlobed leaves on the entire stem (sometimes with small lobes on the upper-most portion). The two can also be differentiated by their calyces which are pointed in C. miniata and blunt in C. hispida.
Fun Fact: All paintbrush species are parasites, growing on the roots of other plants to survive.

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