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Castilleja elmeri

Elmer's Indian paintbrush, Elmer's paintbrush, Wenatchee Indian paintbrush, Wenatchee paintbrush

Habit Herbs, perennial, 1.1–4.2 dm; from a many-headed, woody caudex; with a stout taproot.

solitary or few to many, erect to ascending, sometimes slightly curved at base, unbranched, rarely branched, hairs moderately dense, spreading, medium length, soft, mixed with shorter eglandular and stipitate-glandular ones, at least on distal 1/2 of stem.


green, rarely purple-tinged, linear-lanceolate, sometimes linear or lanceolate, 1.3–6.5 cm, not fleshy, margins plane, flat or involute, entire, apex acute.


2.5–9 × 1.5–3 cm;

bracts red, crimson, scarlet, pink, magenta, red-orange, burnt orange, orange, pale yellow, or whitish throughout, or proximally greenish, distally as stated above, oblong, narrowly obovate, elliptic-oblong, or narrowly ovate, 0(–5)-lobed, rarely with 1 or 2 pairs of short, usually distal lobes;

lobes ascending, lanceolate, very short, arising from distal edge, apex rounded to obtuse.


0 mm.


straight, 20–33 mm;

tubes 13–18 mm;

beak, and sometimes abaxial lip, partially to fully exserted;

beak adaxially green to yellowish, 8–15 mm;

abaxial lip incurved, green, thickened, 2–3 mm, 20–33% as long as beak;

teeth ascending or incurved, green, 0.5–1 mm.


proximally green to pale green, distally colored as bracts, 15–25 mm;

abaxial and adaxial clefts 5–14 mm, 33–50% of calyx length, deeper than laterals, lateral 1–4 mm, 6–20% of calyx length;

lobes lanceolate to narrowly triangular, apex rounded to obtuse.


= 48.

Castilleja elmeri

Phenology Flowering May–Aug.
Habitat Moist to dry rocky slopes, meadows, swales, sagebrush steppes, open conifer forests, montane to subalpine, often on serpentine.
Elevation 600–2600 m. (2000–8500 ft.)
from FNA
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]

The bracts and inflorescences of Castilleja elmeri can be red, crimson, scarlet, pink, magenta, red-orange, burnt orange, orange, pale yellow, or whitish. While the coloration is highly variable between local populations, it is usually uniform and consistent within them. It is found primarily in the Wenatchee Mountains of Washington, where it is often on serpentine, but it ranges northward in the Cascades into extreme southern British Columbia, apparently on non-serpentine substrates. Hybrids with C. miniata var. miniata, C. parviflora var. albida, and C. thompsonii have been found in the eastern Cascades of Washington, and a similar hybrid swarm with C. thompsonii is reported from southern British Columbia.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Source FNA vol. 17, p. 605.
Parent taxa Orobanchaceae > Castilleja
Sibling taxa
C. affinis, C. ambigua, C. angustifolia, C. applegatei, C. aquariensis, C. arachnoidea, C. attenuata, C. brevilobata, C. brevistyla, C. campestris, C. cervina, C. chambersii, C. chlorotica, C. christii, C. chromosa, C. chrymactis, C. chrysantha, C. cinerea, C. citrina, C. coccinea, C. collegiorum, C. covilleana, C. crista-galli, C. cryptantha, C. cusickii, C. densiflora, C. dissitiflora, C. disticha, C. elata, C. elegans, C. exserta, C. flava, C. foliolosa, C. fraterna, C. genevieveana, C. glandulifera, C. gleasoni, C. gracillima, C. grisea, C. haydenii, C. hispida, C. hololeuca, C. hyperborea, C. indivisa, C. integra, C. kaibabensis, C. kerryana, C. kraliana, C. lacera, C. lanata, C. lasiorhyncha, C. lassenensis, C. latifolia, C. lemmonii, C. leschkeana, C. levisecta, C. linariifolia, C. lindheimeri, C. lineariloba, C. lineata, C. litoralis, C. lutescens, C. martini, C. mendocinensis, C. mexicana, C. miniata, C. minor, C. mogollonica, C. mollis, C. montigena, C. nana, C. nelsonii, C. nervata, C. nivea, C. occidentalis, C. oresbia, C. organorum, C. ornata, C. pallescens, C. pallida, C. parviflora, C. parvula, C. patriotica, C. peckiana, C. peirsonii, C. pilosa, C. plagiotoma, C. praeterita, C. pruinosa, C. puberula, C. pulchella, C. purpurascens, C. purpurea, C. raupii, C. revealii, C. rhexiifolia, C. rigida, C. rubicundula, C. rubida, C. rupicola, C. salsuginosa, C. scabrida, C. schizotricha, C. septentrionalis, C. sessiliflora, C. subinclusa, C. suksdorfii, C. tenuiflora, C. tenuis, C. thompsonii, C. tomentosa, C. uliginosa, C. unalaschcensis, C. victoriae, C. viscidula, C. wightii, C. wootonii, C. xanthotricha
Name authority Fernald: Erythea 6: 51. (1898)
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