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Elegant Indian paintbrush
Elegant Indian paintbrush
Castilleja pallida ssp. elegans
Duration – Growth Habit
Perennial – Forb/herb
For information only (typically historical) – I take no responsibility for adverse effects from the use of any plant.
I did not find any documented food or medicinal uses of elegant Indian paintbrush. Other Castilleja (Indian paintbrush) species have numerous documented uses, especially in the Southwest United States (Castilleja – Native American Ethnobotany Database).
Identification and Information
Elegant Indian paintbrush (Catilleja elegans) is a variable color (usually pink) flowering perennial herb. It grows from a slender taproot and may have a below or above ground horizontal stem and a ground-level caudex. Plants may be solitary but typically have two or more stems. The aerial stems are 8-25 cm (3-10 inches) tall are unbranched, hairy, and usually reddish in color. The lanceolate, blade-like leaves can be green, green with a reddish-purple tinge, or reddish-purple, and also have a hairy surface.
The inflorescence is a single flower per stem. The flower is hairy and composed of a whorl of spreading bracts, a calyx of 4-5 fused sepals and 5 fused petals. The bracts and sepals can be white, yellow, yellow-green, pink, or a combination of colors. The petals can be white, yellowish, pink, or deep purple. It has 4 stamens of unequal length
Distribution and Habitat
Elegant Indian paintbrush can be found in Alaska, the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Manitoba, and Quebec. However, it might have a larger distribution, including the Canadian Rockies and even eastern Asia due to possible confusion with Castilleja raupii and Castilleja rubra (see the discussion in Flora of North America).
Castilleja elegans lives in numerous different types of environments such as wet, gravelly soils near lakeshores or rivers, and in dry or sandy soils on ridges, alpine tundra, meadows, and on south-facing slopes.
|Rank||Scientific Name (Common Name)|
|Kingdom||Plantae (plantes, Planta, Vegetal, plants)|
|Subkingdom||Viridiplantae (green plants)|
|Infrakingdom||Streptophyta (land plants)|
|Division||Tracheophyta (vascular plants, tracheophytes)|
|Subdivision||Spermatophytina (spermatophytes, seed plants, phanérogames)|
|Genus||Castilleja Mutis ex L. f. (castilléjie, Indian paintbrush)|
|Species||Castilleja elegans Malte (elegant Indian paintbrush)|
References and Further Reading
Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers, Pratt, Verna E. pg. 23
Classification and Taxonomy
Castilleja elegans Malte Taxonomic Serial No.: 33111, ITIS Database
Castilleja elegans Malte elegant Indian paintbrush, USDA Database
Search string: Castilleja, Native American Ethnobotany Database
Map and Distribution
Castilleja elegans Malte, GBIF
Castilleja elegans: Elegant Indian-paintbrush, NatureServe Explorer
Description and Information
Castilleja elegans Ostenf., Flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago
Castilleja elegans Malte, Rhodora 36: 187. 1934., Flora of North America