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San Clemente Island Paintbrush Back to Plant Page
Castilleja grisea

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About San Clemente Island Paintbrush (Castilleja grisea) Castilleja grisea is a rare species of Indian paintbrush known by the common name San Clemente Island Indian paintbrush. It is endemic to San Clemente Island, one of the Channel Islands of California. San Clemente Island is owned by the US Navy so the Navy is involved in a management program to recover this species. This species was once considered to be "relatively common" on its home island. Since then the habitat has been severely degraded, mainly by feral goats which were introduced there. The island was also used for grazing sheep and cattle, and some feral pigs were present. The animals may have eaten the plant at times, but they mainly damaged the land by trampling the soil, which led to soil compaction, loss of topsoil, and erosion. The introduction of exotic plant species such as ripgut brome (Bromus diandrus), wild oat (Avena barbata), and red brome (Bromus madritensis rubus) also degraded the habitat. Due to sttep terrain of San Clemente Island the exact abundance of Castilleja grisea is not currently known. Recent surveys have discovered new populations of this species. Surveys in 2007 estimate more than 10,000 plants existing. This plant has been a federally listed endangered species since 1977, when it was one of the first species to be designated so. The plant's population had been drastically reduced by the activity of the feral goats. Its populations has increased at least ten-fold since the removal of these non-native herbivores. The species has recovered so well through management programs by the Navy, it was recommended for downlisting during the last review conducted by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Remaining threats include erosion, invasive grasses, and wildfire from military exercises. The species has a relatively high genetic variability for an uncommon island endemic. This and its steady recovery from low numbers give an optimistic outlook for the species' recovery.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Perennial herb, Annual herb

Flower Color

Native Status
Natural Setting
Elevation ?
26' - 1510'

Annual Precip. ?
8.7" - 10.9"

Summer Precip. ?
0.20" - 0.24"

Coldest Month ?
53.6° F - 57.5° F

Hottest Month ?
65.4° F - 72.5° F

Humidity ?
1.72 vpd - 16.13 vpd

Landscaping Information
Nursery Availability
Never or Almost Never Available

Other Names
Common Names
San Clemente Island Indian Paintbrush

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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