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Indian Paintbrush
Castilleja affinis
About Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja affinis) Nurseries Show All Photos Indian Paintbrush is a species native to western North America from Washington to Baja California, where it grows on hills and mountains slopes along the coast and inland. This is a perennial herb growing an erect stem up to about 60 centimeters in maximum height. It is greenish to purple in color and may be hairless to quite hairy. The leaves are variable in shape and up to 8 centimeters long. The flower cluster is a series of leafs in shades of bright red to yellowish. Flowers appearing between the leafs are a bit longer and covered in hairs. They are green to purple lined with red or yellow. The fruit is a capsule just over a centimeter long. There are three subspecies of this plant (ssp. affinis, ssp. litoralis, & ssp. neglecta). Ssp. affinins (Coast Indian painbrush) occurs commonly throughout western North America from Washington to Baja California. Ssp. litoralis and ssp. neglecta are quite rare. Ssp. littoralis (Oregon Coast paintbrush) grows on the coastline of northern California and Oregon and ssp. neglecta (Tiburon paintbrush) is known from only a few occurrences in and around the San Francisco Bay Area and is a federally listed endangered species. Castilleja is a hemi-parasite, meaning that it derives some of its nutrients from a host plant.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Perennial herb, Annual herb

Max. Height
2 ft (0.6 m)


Leaves are covered with fine hairs, lanceolate shaped and 3-9 cm. long. Margins are entire or with 1-3 pairs of slender lobes. Bracts are distinctly scarlet colored

Flower Color
Orange, Red, Yellow

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Sea bluffs, hillsides,dry places


Elevation ?
-253' - 9540'

Annual Precip. ?
6.5" - 153.2"

Summer Precip. ?
0.14" - 5.92"

Coldest Month ?
29.5° F - 57.3° F

Hottest Month ?
52.0° F - 80.9° F

Humidity ?
0.02 vpd - 29.36 vpd

Soil Description
Rocky soil with sand.

Soil Texture
Loam, Loamy Sand, Sand

Soil PH
5.5 - 8.2

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 5° F

Companion Plants
Plant alongside other plants of the coastal scrub/chapparal community, such as Coyote Bush (Bacharris Piluaris), Coast Buckwheat (Eriogonum latifolium), and Checker Bloom (Sidalcea malviflora).

Wildlife Attracted
Is a non-specific host to Leanira Checkerspot (Chlosyne leanira) and Chalcedon Checkerspot (Euphydryas chalcedona) butterflies. Also attracts many native bees.

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Very Difficult

Seldom Used

Propagation ?
Since Castilleja is a hemi-parasite, planting it along with host plants such as lupine or bunch grasses may improve growth. Host plants are often very specific and can be difficult to choose, but try associates found in Castilleja's natural community such as Eriophyllum stachaedifolium (Lizard tail), Eriogonum parvifolium (Seacliff buckwheat), or Erigeron glaucus (Seaside daisy).

Common uses
Butterfly Gardens

Nursery Availability
Rarely Available

Other Names
Common Names
Coast Indian Paintbrush, Soft-leaved Indian Paintbrush, Softleaf 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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