Scarlet Indian Paintbrush
Castilleja miniata Dougl. ex Hook.
Family: Scrophulariaceae, Figwort
Genus: Castilleja
Other names: common red paintbrush
Nomenclature: miniata = painted vermilion
Nativity / Invasiveness: Montana native plant
Medicinal plant
No edibility data

General: perennial, stems few, erect or ascending from a woody base, rarely creeping and rooting at the base, 20-80 cm tall, often branched, hairless to short-hairy or somewhat sticky-long-hairy, particularly above.

Leaves: alternate, linear or lanceolate, sometimes broader, 5-7 cm long, 3-nerved, ordinarily all entire, but sometimes a few upper 3-lobed, hairless to short- or finely long-hairy with simple hairs.

Flowers: several in a relatively short and broad cluster, flowers and bracts close together. The flower cluster is bright red or scarlet, occasionally crimson or rarely yellow, at first short and broad, but often elongating in fruit. Bracts oblong-ovate, more or less toothed or cleft, with pointed segments, rarely entire, short- and long-hairy, often sticky. Calyx 15-30 mm long, deeply and about equally cleft above and below, its primary lobes again cleft into 2 usually linear segments 3-9 mm long. Corolla 20-40 mm long, its short-hairy upper lip 3/4 to about as long as the tube and 5 or more times the length of the dark green, thickened, lower lip. May-September.

Fruits: capsules with many net-veined seeds.


Meadows and slopes, medium and lower elevations in the mountains, in w. and s.c. parts of MT. Also in every state and province in w. N. America from AK to CA, AZ and NM.
Medicinal Uses

The Gitksan Indians of British Columbia made a decoction of seeds from scarlet paintbrush taken for coughs and taken as a purgative and diuretic. They also used the decoction for bleeding, lame back, stiff lungs and sore eyes. The children of the Southern Kwakiutl Indians of British Columbia and the Nitinaht Indians of Vancouver Island sucked the flower nectar of these plants. The White Mountain Apache Indians of Arizona used the root bark with other substances to color various kinds of skins, especially deer skin. The Nitinaht Indians of Vancouver Island covered the bright flowers with snail slime and used the mixture to trap hummingbirds.

Sub taxa:

Our specimen belong to var. miniata var. miniata Dougl. ex Hook.

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