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Montana Field Guides

Deer Indian Paintbrush - Castilleja cervina

Native Species
Not Documented

Global Rank: G4
State Rank: SNA
(see State Rank Reason below)

Agency Status


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State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Castilleja cervina is not documented in Montana (MTNHP Status Review in 2021). It was included in the Flora of Montana (Booth and Wright 1966) and Vascular Plants of Montana (Dorn 1984) possibly based on a specimen collected by R.S. Williams (1029) from "Columbia Falls, Mont." on July 10, 1894 and deposited at the Montana State University Herbarium (MONT 2775). However Mark Egger, author for the Castilleja treatment in the Flora of North America, determined that the specimen is Castilleja flava, which does match the identification for another Williams 1029 specimen collected on July 18, 1894 in "Columbia Falls" and deposited at the University of Montana Herbarium (MONTU 7081) (Egger pers. Comm.). A specimen collected in 1990 and deposited at the Rocky Mountain Herbarium (RM 561358; Brooks 19999) is most likely Castilleja flava based on the location but not the specimen itself (Egger pers. comm.).

Castilleja cervina is known from neighboring British Columbia and Alberta in Canada. If it does occur in Montana, it should be looked for in the very northwestern portion of the state (Egger pers. comm.). A conservation status rank is not applicable (SNA) because this plant is not known to occur in Montana.
General Description
Deer Indian Paintbrush is a perennial, hemiparasitic herb with clustered, erect, branched stems that are 3-6 dm high and which arise from a branched rootcrown. The lower leaves are linear and entire-margined, while the upper leaves have a pair of spreading lobes. Foliage is glabrous or has minute, curled hairs. Flowers are borne in a spike at the top of the stems. Each flower is subtended by a 3-5-lobed leaf-like bract, which is broader than the leaves with yellowish tips. The yellow, tubular corolla, 18-25 mm long, tapers to a short hood, or galea, above and to 3 small lobes below. The tubular calyx, 15-20 mm long, surrounds the corolla and is cleft more deeply below than above; each of the lateral lobes divide again into 2 pointed lobes which are 2-3 mm long. The fruit is a capsule with many tiny seeds.

Flowering and fruiting in July.

Diagnostic Characteristics
There are many species of yellow-colored Castilleja in our area. Castilleja pallescens and C. cusickii have glandular hairs on the galea, but C. cervina does not. C. rustica and C. lutescens have a calyces that are divided equally above and below. C. flava has foliage with longer, straight hairs.

Range Comments
Southern BC, adjacent northern ID and WA and northwest MT. Regional endemic.

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Bauer, P.J. 1983. Bumblebee pollination relationships on the Beartooth Plateau tundra of Southern Montana. American Journal of Botany. 70(1): 134-144.
    • Koch, J., J. Strange, and P. Williams. 2012. Bumble bees of the western United States. Washington, DC: USDA Forest Service, Pollinator Partnership. 143 p.
    • Macior, L.M. 1974. Pollination ecology of the Front Range of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Melanderia 15: 1-59.
    • Mayer, D.F., E.R. Miliczky, B.F. Finnigan, and C.A. Johnson. 2000. The bee fauna (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) of southeastern Washington. Journal of the Entomological Society of British Columbia 97: 25-31.
    • Miller-Struttmann, N.E. and C. Galen. 2014. High-altitude multi-taskers: bumble bee food plant use broadens along an altitudinal productivity gradient. Oecologia 176:1033-1045.
    • Pipp, Andrea. 2020. Correspondence on Castilleja cervina. October 27-28. Electronic mail correspondence between Mark Egger, Castilleja Flora of North America treatment author, Washington and Andrea Pipp, MTNHP Botanist, Helena, Montana.
    • Pyke, G.H., D.W. Inouye, and J.D. Thomson. 2012. Local geographic distributions of bumble bees near Crested Butte, Colorado: competition and community structure revisited. Environmental Entomology 41(6): 1332-1349.
    • Thorp, R.W., D.S. Horning, and L.L. Dunning. 1983. Bumble bees and cuckoo bumble bees of California (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Bulletin of the California Insect Survey 23:1-79.
    • Williams, P., R. Thorp, L. Richardson, and S. Colla. 2014. Bumble Bees of North America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 208 p.
    • Wilson, J.S., L.E. Wilson, L.D. Loftis, and T. Griswold. 2010. The montane bee fauna of north central Washington, USA, with floral associations. Western North American Naturalist 70(2): 198-207.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2022. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants, Second Edition. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 779 p.
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Citation for data on this website:
Deer Indian Paintbrush — Castilleja cervina.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from