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Montana Field Guides

Parrot-head Indian Paintbrush - Castilleja pilosa var. longispica
Other Names:  Castilleja longispica

Status Under Review
Native Species

Global Rank: G4G5T4
State Rank: S3S4

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:

External Links

General Description
Parrot-head paintbrush is an herbaceous, hemiparasitic perennial with clustered, erect or ascending, purplish stems, 10-30 cm (4-12 in) high, from a branched rootcrown. Lower leaves are long and narrow with entire margins, while the upper ones are wider with 1-2 pairs of slender, spreading lobes. Foliage is covered with short to long and soft hairs. Flowers are borne in a spike at the top of the stems. Each flower is subtended by a broadleaf-like bract with yellowish or sometimes purplish tips and 1-3 pairs of slender lobes. The yellow, tubular corolla, 15-20 mm long, tapers to a short hood (galea) above and 3 small lobes below. The tubular calyx, 10-20 mm long, surrounds the corolla and is cleft into 4 equal, pointed lobes. Although the flowers are not completely hidden, the inflorescence takes its color from the bracts rather than the flowers.

Lesica (2012: 451) treats this variety at the specific level.

Flowering in June, July and early August.

Diagnostic Characteristics
The combination of short galea, equal calyx lobes, and sagebrush habitat separate this species from other species of Castilleja. A hand lens may be necessary for positive determination.

Range Comments
Northeastern CA, across eastern OR and central ID to western WY and MT; Clearwater River drainage in northern ID. Peripheral.

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 45

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Grasslands and pine or juniper woodland, usually with big sagebrush, in the montane zone.

  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
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    • Lesica, P. 1993. Vegetation and flora of the Line Creek Plateau area, Carbon County, Montana. Unpublished report to USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, Montana. 30 pp.
    • Lesica, P. 1995. Conservation status of Castilleja longispica on Custer and Gallatin National Forests, Montana. Unpublished report to the U.S.D.A. Forest Service Region One, Missoula, MT. Montana Natural Heritage Program. 44 pp. plus appendices.
    • Lesica, P., M. T. Lavin, and P. F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
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Citation for data on this website:
Parrot-head Indian Paintbrush — Castilleja pilosa var. longispica.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from