Castilleja hispida Benth. (Scrophulariaceae)
harsh Indian paintbrush
Castilleja hispida in its two very different color forms (it also occurs
in various shades in between). Photo on left taken by Rod
Gilbert 2003. Photo
on right taken by Ben Legler 2004 at
Low to mid elevations
Range/ Local occurrence
From SW Alberta/ NW Montana west to
Vancouver Island and south to
Note: there are two sub species of C. hispida.
C. hispida prefers sunny locations such as meadows, forest openings and edges, and grassy slopes.
Plant strategy type
Perennial. Like other members of the genus Castilleja, this plant is hemi-parasistic. Though it may not be necessary, it will likely grow better with a host plant such as Roemer’s fescue.
Festuca idahoensis var. rhoemerii (Rhoemer's fescue)
May be collected as:
Seeds or cuttings. Do not try to transplant Castilleja species.
There is conflicting information concerning the propagation of C. hispida. While some claim that it is extremely difficult, others have had good success. It has been observed that, though the seeds may be easily germinated, the seedlings often do not survive. This may be explained by summer drought, herbivory, or lack of a host plant.
Beth Lawrence explains in detail how to propagate another Castilleja species, C. levisecta, in her thesis entitled, "Studies to Facilitate Reintroduction of Golden Paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta) to the WillametteValley, Oregon." It is quite likely (though not certain) that these methods would be appropriate for C. hispida. The following guidelines for seed germination and propagation from seed are taken from her work.
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.
Seed life, as with viability, may vary depending on population source. It is best to use seeds within 1-2 years.
Recommended seed storage conditions
Store at a low-temperature (5° C) in a dry, dark place.
Seed: 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 or Festuca roemeri. Outplant after at least 3 months. Make sure that the host plant is not out-competing the golden paintbrush seedling
Vegetative cutting: David Schmidt conducted research on the propagation of this species from vegetative cuttings. He had the best results when cuttings were made early in the season (March) and applied with root hormone before setting in soil. This may be one good option for propagation, but the timing of the cutting (firmness of the stalk) is tricky and vegetative propagation alone does not offer the genetic variability that propagating from seed does.
Soil or medium requirements
Plant in well-drained soil. Some fertilization every two weeks may help increase the success of the seedlings.
Plant seedlings with a host plant in an open area.
Care requirements after installed
Make sure that the host plant does not out-compete the paintbrush. Watering during dry months may also increase survival rates.
Beth. 2005. Master's Thesis: Studies to Facilitate
Reintroduction of Golden Paintbrush (Castilleja
levisecta) to the WillametteValley,
of Biology and Plant Pathology.
PLANTS database: http://plants.usda.gov/. June 1, 2006.
Pojar, J. and A.
MacKinnon. 1994. Plants of the
David. 1998. Master's Thesis:
Restoration of a Prairie Ecosystem at the Yellow Island Preserve and the
Propagation of Castilleja hispida by
Data compiled by Samantha Martin Sprenger June, 2006.