|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|Castilleja miniata (Paintbrush)|
Scrophulariaceae (Snapdragon Family)
Montane, subalpine. Meadows. Summer.
My determination of this plant to species level is tentative, and someone with better knowledge of North American fauna may be able to correct me. There are many species of Castilleja to differentiate!! This newly emerging flower head was captured in Esatern Oregon at an elevation of about 1200m.
The gorgeous hot red/pink bracts grab one's attention, but the flowers are actually small green tubes: one is visible near top center, the other at the three o'clock position. As Castilleja plants age, the colored bracts spread upward and the flowers elongate and become more visible.
There are, according to Intermountain Flora, about 200 species of Castilleja (Paintbrush); most grow in western North America, several in eastern North America and Asia, and about fifteen in Central and South America. Castilleja comes in many colors and often these colors represent distinct species. But Paintbrush hybridizes often and therefore precise species identification on the basis of color can be difficult.
The attractive "flowers" that we admire, are actually leaf-like parts, the bracts and sepals. The flower petals themselves are fused in a long, narrow tube that is often greenish-yellow and tipped in the same color as the showy bracts and sepals. The reproductive parts protrude from the tube. Some species of Paintbrush grow singly, others scattered, others in large, very attractive patches, and others in all three manners.
Paintbrush is hemiparasitic (partially parasitic), i.e., if its roots encounter roots of other plants they will penetrate these roots for nourishment. This at least partially explains why several species of Castilleja, especially Castilleja chromosa, commonly begin growing under taller plants such as Sagebrush. Perhaps they also profit from the shade.
Paintbrush of the same species may consistently or inconsistently have hairy or smooth, sticky or not sticky stems; lower leaves may be noticeably red and three veined or not; bracts may, on their outside top edges, be deeply or shallowly cut into a narrow or wider division or not cut at all. As Intermountain Flora states it: "The species of Castilleja are often difficult to distinguish because of overlapping variation in nearly every character."
The genus name, "Castilleja" honours Domingo Castillejo (1744-1793), Spanish botanist and Professor of Botany in Cadiz, Spain. In the late 1770s Jose Celestino Mutis (who was born in Cadiz, Spain but spent most of his life in Columbia) named a new Columbian genus "Castilleja" to honor his countryman. He sent the new species and name to Linnaeus' son who published the information in Supplementum Plantarum in 1781.
This picture has been resized and sharpened for TN.
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