South Dakota Native Plant Research
Scrophulariaceae : Castilleja sessiliflora

Scrophulariaceae : Castilleja sessiliflora


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Family Name


Common Name

Downy paintbrush

Native American Name

Lakota: waȟpé yazókapi


Castilleja sessiliflora is a perennial herb with simple, hairy, ascending to erect stems, 10-30 cm tall, growing from a woody crown. The simple, sessile, alternate, linear leaves are entire, or with the upper most having divergent lobes. The inflorescence is a spike with the flowers subtended by hairy, leafy bracts, shorter than the flowers, that become reduced and are often pink tipped toward the top. The calyx tube is 25-40 mm long, with primary lobes 12-20 mm long and the final with linear segments, 8-14 mm long. The corolla is purplish to yellow to cream colored, 35-55 mm long, forming a curved tube, with a prominent lower lip and conspicuously exerted beyond the bracts. The fruit is an ovate capsule. Downy paintbrush blooms from early May into July on dry plains and hillsides throughout South Dakota.

Additional Notes

Downy paintbrush is hemiparasitic and needs to be planted with Juniperus, Bouteloua, or other grass species in order to grow well. They can be hard to get started.

Horticulture Notes

Seed collection: Seeds mature in early summer.

Germination: Seeds need a 60-day cold moist stratification and then can be planted very shallowly at the base of grass plants in roots that have been cut with a knife, or rake in seeds into grasses in the fall.

Light: Full sun.

Soils: Well drained sandy to rocky soils.

Water: Medium dry to dry.

Scrophulariaceae : Castilleja sessiliflora