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Castilleja coccinea (L.) Spreng.
Scarlet Paintbrush, Scarlet Indian Paintbrush, Painted Cup, Indian Paintbrush
Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)
Synonym(s): Castilleja ludoviciana
USDA Symbol: caco17
USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)
1-2 ft., upright, hairy, annual or biennial with showy scarlet bracts which nearly hide the small greenish flowers. Flowers hidden in axils of scarlet-tipped, fan-shaped bracts and arranged in a dense spike. Leaves divide into three, narrow lobes.
The conspicuous, red-tipped bracts appear to have been dipped in paint. This genus of more than 200 species is especially common in the western United States. Purple Painted Cup (C. purpurea), with purple or violet bracts, occurs from southwestern Missouri to Texas. Great Plains Paintbrush (C. sessiliflora), found from Alberta east to Manitoba and south to Illinois, Missouri, and Texas, has green bracts. Pale Painted Cup (C. septentrionalis) has whitish or creamy bracts, often suffused with bronze or dull purple, and is found from Manitoba east to Newfoundland and south to Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Michigan, and Minnesota.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Annual
Size Notes: Up to about 28 inches tall, often shorter.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Red , Pink , Orange , Yellow , Green
Bloom Time: Jan , Feb , Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
DistributionUSA: AL , AR , CT , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , VA , WI , WV
Canada: MB , ON
Native Distribution: MA to s.e. Sask., s. to n. FL, MS, LA, e. OK & e. KS
Native Habitat: Moist to dry prairies; meadows; roadsides
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Damp, sandy soils.
Conditions Comments: Roots grow until they touch the roots of other plants, frequently grasses, then penetrate the roots of these host plants, obtaining a portion of their nutrients. Transplanting paintbrush usually kills it.
BenefitUse Medicinal: Amerindians used weak flower tea for rheumatism, "female diseases", as a love charm in food and as a poison.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
PropagationCommercially Avail: yes
Find Seed or Plants
Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.
National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
BibliographyBibref 417 - Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America (2000) Foster, S. & J. A. Duke
Bibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Web ReferenceWebref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Castilleja coccinea in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Castilleja coccinea in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Castilleja coccinea
MetadataRecord Modified: 2022-10-28
Research By: TWC Staff