Rhodora 36: 187. 1934.
Herbs, perennial, 0.5–3 dm; from a woody caudex; with a slender taproot. Stems few to several, ascending to erect, or slightly decumbent at base, unbranched, hairy, sometimes glabrate near base, hairs erect-ascending, whitish or yellowish, long, soft, eglandular, mixed with shorter stipitate-glandular ones, especially distally. Leaves green to sometimes purple-tinged, lanceolate to narrowly oblong, (1.2–)2–6(–9) cm, not fleshy, margins plane, sometimes ± wavy, flat to ± involute, 0-lobed, sometimes 3-lobed distally, immediately below inflorescence, apex acuminate to caudate; lobes ascending to erect, linear to lanceolate, lateral lobes narrower than central, apex acuminate. Inflorescences 1.5–9 × 1.5–3 cm; bracts purple to pink-purple or reddish purple throughout, sometimes proximally purple to pink-purple or reddish purple, distally whitish or pale pink, oblong to lanceolate or narrowly ovate, (0–)3–7-lobed; lobes spreading-ascending, linear-lanceolate, narrow, short or long, arising near or above mid length, center lobe apex rounded to sometimes acute, lateral ones acute. Calyces yellow to yellow-green, rarely purplish to dull red throughout, 19–25 mm; abaxial and adaxial clefts 10–17 mm, 60–70% of calyx length, deeper than laterals, lateral (2–)5–8 mm, 20–25% of calyx length; lobes narrowly oblong to lanceolate, apex rounded or obtuse, sometimes acute. Corollas straight, 18–28 mm; tube 17–20 mm; abaxial lip generally visible between calyx lobes, sometimes exserted above them, beak exserted; beak adaxially green, yellowish green, or purplish green, 4–8 mm; abaxial lip purple or magenta, medium sized, often visible through or above abaxial cleft, pouches 3, slightly inflated, 3–5.5 mm, 50+% as long as beak; teeth ascending, purple or magenta, 1–1.5 mm. 2n = 24.
Phenology: Flowering Jun–Aug.
Habitat: Meadows, tundra, fell fields, moraines, talus, rocky slopes, shrub thickets, gravel bars, lakeshores.
Elevation: 0–2000 m.
Man., N.W.T., Nunavut, Que., Yukon, Alaska, e Asia (Russian Far East).
Castilleja elegans is a characteristic species of the arctic and arctic-alpine regions. Its eastern and western limits are poorly understood, due to confusion with the similar species C. raupii to the east and south, and with C. rubra (Drobow) Rebristaya in eastern Asia. All three are part of a morphologically variable complex of recently evolved and poorly differentiated entities informally known as the C. pallida complex, after the first-described member of the group. Some reports of C. elegans in eastern Canada are here referred to C. septentrionalis. A recent collection of C. elegans from the northern Canadian Rocky Mountains is apparently disjunct, though it may also suggest its wider presence in Alberta.