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Castilleja chromosa


Common Paintbrush, Desert Paintbrush, Painted Cup

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderLamialesAromatic herbs and shrubs, including lavender, lilac, olive, jasmine, ash, teak, snapdragon, sesame, psyllium, garden sage, mint, basil, and rosemary
FamilyOrobanchaceaeBroomrape family of parasitic plants
GenusCastillejaNamed for Spanish botanist Domingo Castillejo
SpecieschromosaFrom Greek chroma, “color”

About plant names...

Common paintbrush’ genus, Castilleja, is named for 18th century Spanish botanist Domingo Castillejo. Chromosa, meaning “color,” is a reference to the bright red flowerheads. If you’re interested in Castillejas, don’t miss Mark Egger’s superb photographic compilation on Flickr. See also this Castilleja comparison table.

Identification: Plants are less than 24" (60 cm) tall, sometimes as little as 4" (10 cm). Leaves are linear-lanceolate (long and narrow or shaped like a lance), composed of three to five narrow lobes, like fingers. They are ¾-2½" (2-7 cm) in length The intensely bright red (or red-orange or yellow) “flowers” are really bracts—modified leaves, each up to 1½" (3.8 cm) long. The real flowers are mostly hidden, tubular in shape, and yellow-green in color. They appear from May to September. Fruits are a two-chambered capsule. Unlike Castilleja angustifolia, this plant is found below 3200' (975 m); in fact, it is found below sea level, in Death Valley National Monument.

Online References:

Castilleja chromosa at Mark Egger’s Castilleja site on Flickr

Castilleja chromosa on Northern Arizona Flora

Castilleja chromosa at the United States National Parks Service

Castilleja chromosa on Wildflowers, Ferns & Trees of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah

Castilleja chromosa at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Castilleja chromosa on the Madrean Archipelago Biodiversity Assessment

Castilleja chromosa on DesertUSA: Exploring the Southwest

Castilleja chromosa on SEINet—the Southwest Environmental Information Network

Castilleja chromosa (Common Paintbrush, Desert Paintbrush, Painted Cup)

5/4/2007 · Death Valley Area · By Jeffrey A. Barry

Castilleja chromosa description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Aug 2013.

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Castilleja chromosa (Common Paintbrush, Desert Paintbrush, Painted Cup)

This paintbrush is commonly found growing on sagebrush. · 7/8/2017 · Painted Desert, AZ · By Ian McNeish

Castilleja chromosa (Common Paintbrush, Desert Paintbrush, Painted Cup)

5/4/2007 · Death Valley Area · By Jeffrey A. Barry

Castilleja chromosa (Common Paintbrush, Desert Paintbrush, Painted Cup)

5/21/2009 · Grand Canyon South Rim, AZ
≈ 6 × 4½" (16 × 11 cm)