Desert Indian Paintbrush
Castilleja chromosa or angustifolia
Common name: Desert Indian Paintbrush
Latin name: Castilleja chromosa or angustifolia
Height: 12 to 18 inches
Description: Castilleja chromosa/angustifolia has bristly gray-green to purple-red herbage. What looks to be flowers are actually the colourful red-orange bracts that hide the tubular yellow-green flowers that have a thin coat of white hairs.
Leaf: The 20–70 mm linear/lance-shaped leaves are lower down the stem from the colourful bracts and are comprised of 3 or 5 narrow fingerlike lobes.
Range: ne San Bernardino Mountains, Great Basin Floristic Province, Mojave Desert
Habitat: Dry sagebrush scrub, pinyon/juniper woodland
Elevation: 1000–3000 m.
Flowering time: May–Sep
Notes: This Desert Indian Paintbrush is not limited to the desert alone, often growing well above the desert and sage landscapes into pinyon/juniper woodlands. It is partially parasitic on the roots of other plants. Castilleja chromosa/angustifolia, a dicot, is a perennial herb that is native to California and is also found outside of California, but is confined to western North America. There are more than 30 species of Castilleja in California. Distribution outside California: to Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico. This plant was photographed in the San Bernardino Mountains near Cactus Flats with a Canon EOS 30D and 100mm macro lens.
We have an online wildflower field guide that is designed to help you identify desert wildflowers by color, scientific name, region and common name. The pictures are sized to work on the iPod, iPhone, iPad and similar devices. With your iPod or phone you will easily be able to identify wildflowers while in the desert. Links for downloads are on the bottom of the Wildflower Field Guide page.
Photo tips: Most digital point-and-shoot cameras have a macro function - usually symbolized by the icon of a little flower. When you turn on that function, you allow your camera to get closer to the subject, looking into a flower for example. Or getting up close and personal with a bug. More on desert photography.
Mojave Desert Wildflowers - This book is the standard by which all other wildflower books are measured. The author, Jon Mark Stewart, has combined super photography with concise information. This book has an entire color page for each wildflower covered, with a discussion of the wildflower. 210 pages with 200 color photos. More...
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