Common Paintbrush (Slickrock Paintbrush; Early Paintbrush)
Family: Scrophulariaceae - Figwort Family
Perennial herbs; some parasitic or semi-parasitic; 4” to 1.8' (1 to 5.5 dm) tall
Leaves: alternate; simple; linear; divided; 1” to 2.8” (2.5 to 7 cm) long
Flowers: 4 or 5 united green tubular petals are irregular and 2-lipped (the upper lip beaklike with 2 lobes and the lower lip shorter with 3 lobes); 4 at least partially united tubular variously colored sepals; 4 stamens; flowerlike bracts are reddish and tubular; bilaterally symmetrical; usually bisexual; flowers are 0.8” to 1.44” (2 to 3.6 cm) long, upper lip is 0.36” to 0.72” (9 to 18 mm) long
Pollinators: other Castilleja species are pollinated by insects and hummingbirds; red paintbrush is generally hummingbird pollinated and yellow, green, or purple paintbrush is generally bee pollinated
Fruits: 2 chambered capsule (dry fruit)
Blooms in Arches National Park: March, April, May, June
Habitat in Arches National Park: desert shrub, grassland and pinyon-juniper communities
Location seen: on park road mile 0 to 4, Windows road, park road mile 11 to 12, Delicate Arch trail, Delicate Arch Viewpoint
Other: The genus, “Castilleja”, honors Domingo Castillejo, an 18th century Spanish botanist and the species name, “chromosa”, means “red” which describes the color of the flower's bracts.
This plant is hemiparasitic (partiallyhalf-parasite). It is a water parasite that survives drought by attaching to the roots of other plants using them as a source of water.
This family is important because of many ornaments and cardiac glycosides can be derived from foxglove.
Did You Know?
Edward Abbey worked as a seasonal park ranger at Arches in the late 1950s. His 1968 memoir of this experience, "Desert Solitaire," has become a classic of desert literature.