Golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta)
Photo source: Left, Institute for Applied Ecology; Right: photo taken by Terry Domico
was historically found from coastal
10-300 feet 
There are less than a dozen sites where this species persists,
with the majority of those occurring in western
Golden paintbrush is found in open grassland areas and is most successful where native prairie species still dominate. It does poorly in areas where Douglas-fir and Scot’s broom are present as it is easily out-competed and cannot survive in closed canopy conditions. 
Plant strategy type/successional stage
C. Levisecta is a short-lived perennial (about 5-6 years) and reproduces exclusively by seed.  It is a hemiparasite which means that is can attach itself to the roots of other species to acquire water and nutrients, though this is not crucial for its survival. Indeed, it can grow successfully without a host, but studies have found that when grown with a host plant, C. levisecta grows larger and is more likely to produce flowers. [4, 5]
Collection restrictions or guidelines
Golden paintbrush is a federally listed threatened species
and is listed as endangered in
Germination requirements may vary depending on the source of the seed. In general, seeds must be stratified for 6-8 weeks. Set seeds on a moist paper towel or germination paper in a dark place at 5° C for 6-8 weeks. Follow this by a post-chill incubation: set seeds in a warm, well-lit place for two weeks (checking for germination during this period). Keep moist. [1, 5]
Seed life, as with viability, may vary depending on population source. It is best to use seeds within 1-2 years. [1, 5]
Recommended seed storage conditions
Store at a low-temperature (5° C) in a dry, dark place.
P. Dunwiddie/ TNC
Once the seeds have germinated and have their first root (radicle), carefully put the seeds in soil. After 4-6 weeks, seedlings may be transplanted into a container with a host plant such as Eriophyllum lanatum, Festuca roemeri, or Potentilla gracilis. Outplant after at least 3 months. Make sure that the host plant is not out-competing the golden paintbrush seedling. [1, 5]
Soil or medium requirements
In its native habitat, C. levisecta often occurs on well-drained glacial outwash soils. Therefore, it is wise to use a well-drained soil for propagating this species. Researchers have also had success with using a liquid fertilizer (15-30-15) every two weeks when watering. 
Install seedlings when they are at least 3 months old. In its natural environment, C. levisecta grows in clusters. Planting in this fashion may make it easier to monitor the population as well as protect from herbivory (fencing), if appropriate. 
Care requirements after installed
Summer drought and herbivory may be the main causes for seedling mortality. If possible, watering young seedlings during dry months and protecting them from herbivores may increase early survival rates. 
Normal rate of growth or spread; lifespan
C. levisecta lives about 5-6 years. 
(1) Caplow, F. 2004. Reintroduction plan for golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta).
(2) Center for Plant Conservation website: http://www.centerforplantconservation.org
(3) Dunwiddie, P.W.,
(4) Kaye, T.N.
2001. Restoration Research for golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta), a
threatened species. Institute for Applied Ecology,
(6) PLANTS database: http://plants.usda.gov/.
(7) The Nature Conservancy website: http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/washington/friends/art14537.html. April 26, 2006.
(8) Washington Natural Heritage Program website: http://www.dnr.wa.gov/nhp/refdesk/fguide/htm/fsp_ascu.htm
Data compiled by
Samantha Martin Sprenger