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Soft-leaved Paintbrush
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Castilleja mollis
  

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About Soft-leaved Paintbrush (Castilleja mollis) Castilleja mollis is a species of Indian paintbrush known by the common name softleaf Indian paintbrush. It is endemic to the Channel Islands of California, where it is currently known only from Santa Rosa Island. An occurrence was once noted on San Miguel Island, but the plant has not been found there since 1938. Its habitat is the coastal sage scrub around the windy sand dunes and bluffs. This wildflower is a perennial herb with many spreading, prostrate branches up to about 40 centimeters long. The plant is coated in woolly, tangled, sometimes glandular hairs that give it a gray-green tint. The leaves are 1 to 3 centimeters long and oval. The inflorescence is up to 8 centimeters long and made up of fleshy green or yellow-green bracts. Between the bracts bloom the pale to bright yellow pouched flowers. Like other Castilleja, this Castilleja mollis is hemiparasitic, attaching its roots to those of other plants to tap nutrients and water. The host plant for this Castilleja species is probably Menzies' goldenbush, Isocoma menziesii. Castilleja mollis is a federally listed endangered species. There are two known occurrences of the plant remaining on Santa Rosa Island. It has become rare due to habitat destruction, mainly from the presence of domesticated and feral ungulates such as cattle, elk (Cervus canadensis roosevelti), and deer (Odocoileus hemionus). These animals trample the soil, which compacts and degrades it. Deer also tend to use patches of the plant as bedding. Introduced plant species have also taken over the area. The cattle and most of the other non-native animals have been removed, but many weeds remain, such as ice plant. The plant depends on Menzies' goldenbush, which has also declined in the area, its habitat becoming fragmented. Invasive grasses prevent the small Castilleja plants from establishing haustoria, its connections to the roots of the goldenbush. This Castilleja may hybridize with Castilleja affinis. A 2008 review of the species' status indicated that the plant has rebounded somewhat since the removal of the ungulates, but it is still vulnerable enough that it will not yet be downlisted from endangered status.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Perennial herb, Annual herb

Flower Color
Cream

Native Status
Natural Setting
Elevation ?
14' - 1092'

Annual Precip. ?
12.0" - 23.2"

Summer Precip. ?
0.15" - 0.31"

Coldest Month ?
45.8° F - 54.0° F

Hottest Month ?
60.6° F - 71.1° F

Humidity ?
0.83 vpd - 16.58 vpd

Landscaping Information
Nursery Availability
Never or Almost Never Available


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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