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Castilleja rhexiifolia Rydb.

Splitleaf Indian paintbrush, rosy Indian-paintbrush, rhexia-leaved paintbrush, alpine paintbrush

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
Speciesrhexiifolia“With Rhexia-like leaves,” for the leaves’ resemblence to deer grass

About plant names...

Castilleja rhexiifolia is one of the 200 or so species in this genus, and a North American native. It used to be called Castilleja rhexifolia (only one "i" after the "x"). Considering that "rhexiifolia," however you spell it, is a made up Latin word meaning "has leaves like deer grass," one might argue that quibbling over the proper spelling is an example of misdirected energy, as this article from the Native Plants Journal ponders. Any step that improves nomenclatural uniformity is okay with me though.

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 occur in small clusters, with unbranched purplish or red stems. Leaves are broadly lanceolate (lance-shaped), and entire (unlobed). The most noticeable feature of this paintbrush is the color of its flowers—a pink/purple hue rather than the more common strong red or red-orange colors of many other Castillejas. In addition to purple-magenta, pink-white, pink-magenta and crimson also occur. The colorful flowers are actually bracts—modified leaves—which largely enclose greenish flowers. These plants are found in alpine and subalpine locations.

Online References:

Mark Egger’s Castilleja site on Flickr


Discover Life


The USDA Plants Database

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (uncommon reddish form)


Turner, Mark, Gustafson, Phyllis, Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest, Timber Press, 2006, p. 368

Castilleja lauta A. Nelson

Castilleja leonardii Rydb.

Castilleja oregonensis Gandog.


Castilleja rhexiifolia description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Castilleja rhexiifolia (splitleaf Indian paintbrush, rosy Indian-paintbrush, rhexia-leaved paintbrush, alpine paintbrush)

6/26/2006 · Colorado · By Constance B. Kent


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