Castilleja miniata

Indian paintbrush


The Basics

Taxonomy: Kingdom - Plantae (plants). Subkingdom - Tracheobionta (vascular plants). Superdivision - Spermatophyta (seed plants). Division - Magnoliophyta (flowering plants). Class - Magnoliopsida. Order - Scrophulariales. Family - Orobanchaceae. Genus -Castilleja Mutisex L. f.. Species - Castilleja miniata Dougl. ex Hook.

Ecology: Wet to dry meadows, grassy slopes, fens, shrub-carrs, tidal marshes, clearings, roadsides, thickets and open forests from the lowland to subalpine zones; common throughout BC south of 57* N, infrequent northward and rare on the Queen Charlotte Islands; N to SE AK, E to W ON and S to ND, NM, AZ and CA.


General: Perennial herb from a stout, scaly, somewhat woody stem-base; stems several and clustered or solitary on rhizomes, ascending to erect, 20-80 cm tall, simple or sometimes branched above, more or less smooth below, hairy above especially in the inflorescence. Leaves: Alternate, lance-linear to lanceolate, 3-10 cm long, entire, long-tapering to sharp-pointed tip, appressed-rough-hairy to nearly smooth.Flowers: Inflorescence a prominently bracted terminal spike, the bracts bright red or scarlet to orange, occasionally crimson or rarely yellow, lanceolate to oblong-egg-shaped, with 1 to 2 pairs of sharp lobes or teeth near the top or rarely entire, hairy and often sticky; corollas greenish, 20-40 mm long, 2-lipped, the upper lip beak-like, short-hairy, 9-20 mm long, 3/4 to about as long as the tube and 5 or more times the length of the thickened, 3-toothed lower lip; calyces red to scarlet, hairy, 15-30 mm long, deeply 2-lobed, these primary lobes again divided into 2 linear to lanceolate, sharp-pointed, 3- to 9-mm long segments; stamens 4.


Castilleja miniata’s root grow until it touches the root of another plant. Once that happens the root will penetrate the root of the host plant. Taking the nutrients from that plant. Castilleja miniata also is important for the plume moth. Castilleja minitata produces alkaloids that the plume moth needs.


Seeds: Castilleja miniata produces capsules that are 9-12 mm longs. The Flowers bloom from May to September. The seeds have loose coasts that are net veined. Pollination occurs from hummingbirds and self-pollinating can occur. Castilleja miniata seeds are dispersed by wind and are often only carried a short distance. Usually though the seeds are just dropped to the base of the plant.  

 Germination: Castilleja miniata requires cold stratification for 30 days. This time allows the seeds to brake the coating and grow.

Species Distribution


E Flora of British Columbia
In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2015. E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia []. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 01/02/2017 10:19:57 AM ]

USDA Plants Database
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.
Distribution Map photo credit

Jepson Flora Project
Margriet Wetherwax, T.I. Chuang & Lawrence R. Heckard 2017. Castilleja miniata, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2017. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on February 01, 2017.

Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
Burke Museum. 2017. Castilleja miniata [Online]. University of Washington.
Photo credit: 2003,2004, Ben Legler,

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower center
TWC Staff. 2015-12-02. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The University of Texas at Austin.

Alkaloids From Castilleja miniate and Penstemon whippleaanus, Two Host Species for the Plume Moth
McCoy, J. W., & Stermitz, F. R. (1983). Alkaloids from Castilleja miniata and Penstemon whippleanus, two host species for the plume moth, Amblyptilia (Platyptilia) pica. Journal of Natural Products, 46(6), 902-907.
Gould, K., Wood, S., & Smreciu, A. (2013). Castilleja miniata: common red paintbrush, giant red Indian paintbrush, scarlet paintbrush.