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Castilleja purpurea var. purpurea (Purple paintbrush)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Castilleja purpurea var. purpurea

Castilleja purpurea (Nutt.) G. Don var. purpurea

Purple Paintbrush, Purple Prairie Painbrush, Prairie Paintbrush, Downy Indian Paintbrush

Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Castilleja purpurea var. purpurea, Purple Paintbrush, has the widest range of natural colors of any of the three varieties of its species, C. purpurea, usually some shade of purple, but occasionally also shades of red, orange, yellow, or white. Favoring grasslands with rocky limestone soils, it ranges from southwest Missouri southwest to central Texas. Like many paintbrushes, it is semi-parasitic on prairie grasses and is thus ideal for meadow and prairie plantings. It is a perennial.


From the Image Gallery

22 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Lanceolate , Linear
Leaf Pubescence: Villose
Leaf Margin: Entire
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Inflorescence: Spike
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Usually 6-9 inches but can be twice that
Leaf: Green to grey-green
Flower: Spikes to 6 inches. Individual flowers within bracts 25-40 mm.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red , Purple
Bloom Time: Apr , May


USA: KS , MO , OK , TX
Native Distribution: Southwest Missouri through eastern Oklahoma to central Texas
Native Habitat: Rocky, limestone grasslands

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil pH: Alkaline (pH>7.2)
Drought Tolerance: High
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Rocky limestone outcrops preferred
Conditions Comments: Semi-parasitic on grass roots so prairies, meadows necessary.


Use Ornamental: Vivid spring flowers for limestone prairies, meadows, and perennial gardens within its range
Use Wildlife: Flowers attract insect pollinators and hummingbirds.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Hummingbirds
Nectar Source: yes


Propagation Material: Seeds
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: If plant appears to be in decline, plant a prairie grass near it, as it's semi-parasitic on grass roots.

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-MM-754 Collected 2010-07-14 in Hamilton County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

1 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank


Bibref 293 - Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas (1979) Correll, D. S. & M. C. Johnston
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 281 - Shinners & Mahler's Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas (1999) Diggs, G. M.; B. L. Lipscomb; B. O'Kennon; W. F...
Bibref 286 - Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country (1989) Enquist, M.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Castilleja purpurea var. purpurea in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Castilleja purpurea var. purpurea in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Castilleja purpurea var. purpurea


Record Modified: 2009-12-05
Research By: TWC Staff, GDG

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