[The Paintbrushes of the Columbia River
Gorge of Oregon and Washington]
Harsh Paintbrush, Harsh Indian Paintbrush
Castilleja hispida var. hispida
Synonyms: Castilleja angustifolia var. abbreviata, Castilleja angustifolia var. hispida, Castilleja hispida ssp. abbreviata, Castilleja hispida ssp. hispida
Harsh paintbrush as seen along the Hardy Ridge Trail, Beacon Rock State Park.........April 20, 2015. The tips of the calyx lobes are rounded.
Harsh paintbrush is a colorful perennial wildflower
found across much of the west. It consists of a cluster of hairy (hispid) stems
arising 20 to 60 cm tall from a woody base. The stems are primarily unbranched
and most often fairly villous or hairy. The leaves are narrowly to broadly lanceolate
with the lower leaves entire and reduced in size while the upper ones larger,
narrower and often with one or two pairs of lateral lobes. Occasionally the
leaves are all entire margined. The inflorescence is typically striking in coloration.
It is often bright red, scarlet, or even yellow in color. The bracts are wide
and deeply 3-5 lobed and more or less hairy. The calyx is 15-30 mm in length
and deeply and subequally cleft above and below. The lobes are again divided
1-7 mm into two rounded to acute segments. The corolla ranges from 20-40 mm
long, puberulent to pubescent, and equaling the tube in length and five or more
times the length of the dark green, thickened, lower lip.
In Oregon and Washington, hairy paintbrush may
be easily confused with common paintbrush. The latter
may be identified by the entire leaf margins, less hairy foliage, and acutely
tipped calyx lobes.
Harsh paintbrush may be found in grasslands and
in forest meadows.
Harsh paintbrush may be found across southwestern
Canada from Vancouver Island to southwestern Alberta. It is found southward
through northwestern Montana and northern Idaho to northeastern Oregon and west
across Oregon and Washington to the Pacific coast (as far south as Benton County,
In the Columbia River Gorge, it may be found throughout
the length of the gorge between the elevations of 100' and 4800'.
Photo at left: Stem leaf of harsh paintbrush as seen in the webmaster's garden in Gresham, OR (from seeds of plants from the central Columbia River Gorge)...............May 11, 2009. Photo at right: Stem leaf of harsh paintbrush as seen along the Memaloose Loop Trail in the central Columbia River Gorge.........April 12, 2010.
Harsh paintbrush blooming along the Starvation Creek Ridge Trail #414, Columbia River Gorge.......April 26, 2016.
Note the moderately long galea above. The corolla
of harsh paintbrush is rougly 24-32 mm long, with the galea ranging from 10-14
Note the rounded calyx lobes in the photo above.
Note also that the lobes are split more deeply dorsally and ventrally than laterally.
The calyx ranges from 19-27 mm long.
Leaves, bracts and flowers of harsh paintbrush
from Castilleja Hill, in the Memaloose Hills of the central Columbia River Gorge............April
From left to right are one side of the calyx tube with its 2
rounded lobes, the corolla, the calyx and corolla together, and a stem leaf
with 2 pairs of lateral lobes. Note the additional close-ups below.
Harsh paintbrush beginning to bloom near the Memaloose Overlook of Highway 30, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area...........March 24, 2013.
The first leaves of harsh paintbrush arising out of the ground along the Memaloose Trail about 200 meters south of Memaloose Overlook, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area...........March 3, 2015. Note the young leaves of Carey's balsamroot also coming out of the ground to its immediate right.