Shade Loving Native Plants of the
United States & Canada

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Castilleja Mutis ex L.f., Indian Paintbrush
Downy Indian paintbrush, Castilleja sessiliflora

Photo Credit:  Clint & Charles Robertson

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Castilleja Mutis ex L.f.
Indian paintbrush

Native Distribution Map

USDA Zones: 3 - 10
Shade tolerance: Part Shade
Moisture: Dry - moist
Height: 1’ – 2’
Propagation: seeds, potted plant

Castilleja comprise a family of about 200 different varieties worldwide.  Various varieties of Castilleja are native to or naturalized in every state and province in the United States and Canada.  

You can find them in bloom between March and July, depending on the location.

The Castilleja are found in annual and perennial varieties.  Since they have so many different kinds of Castilleja, be sure you are planting ones that are native to your area.  You can find more information on ones local to your area by contacting your native plant society.

Indian paintbrush is worthy of its name.  The bright colors paint the land.  You can find them in red, orange, pale yellow, purple, pink and magenta.  They are truly spectacular massed in the garden.  These hardy little beauties were also used for food and medicine by Native Americans. 

The Castilleja family is semi-parasitic.  The roots keep growing until they reach the roots of other plants, and then tap into the host roots for nutrients.

Growth requirements:  Adequate moisture in sandy soil.  Castilleja prefers a slightly acidic to neutral pH.  It does not transplant well due to parasitic root structure.  Always purchase plants that have a symbiotic host included.

Benefits:  Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.  Castilleja is a larval host and nectar source for butterflies.  Deer resistant.  Good for xeriscaping.  Good cut flower.

Care and Maintenance: 

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