Castilleja coccinea (L.) Spreng.

Castilleja coccinea plant

Family - Scrophulariaceae

Stems - To +40cm tall, simple or branching above, multiple from slightly thickened roots, purple, hollow, hirsute.

Castilleja coccinea stem

Leaves - Basal leaves in rosette, oblanceolate, to +10cm long, +2cm broad. Cauline leaves to +10cm long, +1cm broad, linear-lanceolate, with prominent parallel venation, pubescent on veins below, pubescent above, sessile, reduced upward, three-lobed. Lobes linear. Central lobe more broad and long than lateral lobes.

Castilleja coccinea leaf

Inflorescence - Compact spikes, elongating in fruit. Flowers subtended by colored foliaceous bracts.

Castilleja coccinea inflorescenceInflorescence.

Castilleja coccinea bractBract.

Flowers - Calyx tubular, to +2cm long, +/-5mm in diameter, pilose in lower half near base, pubescent in upper half near apex, laterally two lobed, colored at apex, pubescent internally. Lobes about 1/3 the length of calyx, truncate at apex. Corolla not showy, tubular, bilabiate, to +2.5cm long, longer than calyx. Upper lip galeate. Stamens 4, didynamous, adnate about middle of corolla tube, included in galea. Style filiform, to +2.5cm long, glabrous, exserted. Stigma somewhat biglobose. Ovary superior, green, glabrous, 4-5mm long, 2mm in diameter. Locules 2. Placentation axile. Septum with protrusion into locule, seeds (ovules) many. Capsule to 1cm long.

Castilleja coccinea flowerFlower.

Flowering - April - July.

Habitat - Pastures, prairies, wet meadows, glades, open woods, thickets, roadsides.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - It's hard not to notice the brilliant splash of colors these plants produce in the spring. The brilliant calyx and bract serve to draw attention to an otherwise dull corolla. Many insects are attracted to the plant.
Steyermark lists two forms based on calyx and bract color. Form coccinea, shown above, has reddish coloration and is more common. Form lutescens Farw. has yellow or cream coloration. Here it is:

Castilleja coccinea plant

Photographs taken in Linville, NC., 5-11-03, in Eminence, MO., 5-23-03, and off Hwy U in Benton County, MO., 5-15-04.


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