Castilleja purpurea

(Nuttall) G. Don

Gen. Hist. 4: 615. 1837/1838.

Common names: Prairie or purplish paintbrush
Basionym: Euchroma purpurea Nuttall Trans. Amer. Philos. Soc., n.s. 5: 180. 1835
Synonyms: Castilleja williamsii Pennell
Treatment appears in FNA Volume 17. Treatment on page 649. Mentioned on page 575, 598, 615, 623.

Herbs, perennial, 1.5–3(–4) dm; from a woody caudex; with a taproot. Stems few to many, erect to ascending, branched, sometimes unbranched, hairs fairly dense, spreading to appressed, white, fairly short, soft, ± felty, eglandular, sometimes mixed sparsely with short stipitate-glandular ones, sometimes obscuring surface. Leaves green to purple, linear to narrowly oblong-lanceolate, 2–7(–9) cm, not fleshy, margins plane, sometimes slightly wavy, involute, 3–7-lobed, apex narrowly acute to rounded; lobes spreading, linear, apex obtuse or acute. Inflorescences 2.6–16 × 2–4 cm; bracts proximally greenish to deep greenish purple, distally purple, magenta, reddish, pink, or rose, rarely white, cream, light yellow, or dull orangish, proximal linear to lanceolate, distal oblong, 3–7(–9)-lobed; lobes spreading to ascending, linear to oblanceolate, long, arising from distal 2/3, center lobe apex obtuse to rounded, lateral ones acute to rounded. Calyces colored as bracts, (20–)25–34 mm; abaxial and adaxial clefts (10–)13–22 mm, 50–60% of calyx length, deeper than laterals, lateral 7–16 mm, 35–45% of calyx length; lobes broadly linear to long-triangular or oblong, apex acute to obtuse. Corollas slightly curved, 25–40 mm; tube 16–22 mm; beak exserted, adaxially green, 9–18 mm; abaxial lip green to purple-red, reduced, not strongly pouched, ± protruding, 4–5 mm, 33–50% as long as beak; teeth prominent, petaloid, spreading to erect, colored as in distal portion of bracts, 3–4 mm.

Phenology: Flowering Mar–May.
Habitat: Rocky slopes, ledges, prairies, woodlands, thickets, roadsides, often sandy or limy soils.
Elevation: 200–600 m.


Castilleja purpurea is a common species of eastern Oklahoma and central Texas, with a few records from adjacent southeastern Kansas and southwestern Missouri. It often provides beautiful, multicolored displays in the meadows within its range. Castilleja citrina and C. lindheimeri are closely related species sometimes regarded as varieties of C. purpurea. Hybrids and hybrid swarms between C. indivisa and C. purpurea have been observed at some localities where they are sympatric.

Selected References


Lower Taxa

... more about "Castilleja purpurea"
J. Mark Egger +, Peter F. Zika +, Barbara L. Wilson +, Richard E. Brainerd +  and Nick Otting +
(Nuttall) G. Don +
Euchroma purpurea +
Prairie or purplish paintbrush +
Kans. +, Mo. +, Okla. +  and Tex. +
200–600 m. +
Rocky slopes, ledges, prairies, woodlands, thickets, roadsides, often sandy or limy soils. +
Flowering Mar–May. +
Castilleja williamsii +
Castilleja purpurea +
Castilleja +
species +