E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Castilleja ambigua Hook. & Arn.
Paintbrush (johnny-nip; paintbrush owl-clover)
Orobanchaceae (Broom-rape family)
(Previously in Scrophulariaceae)

Introduction to Vascular Plants
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Distribution of Castilleja ambigua
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Castilleja ambigua var. ambigua

Species Information

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Annual herb from a taproot; stems decumbent to ascending, 10-35 cm long/tall, simple or often branched, minutely to coarsely spreading-hairy.
Alternate, unstalked, lanceolate to oblong or egg-shaped, 1-5 cm long, entire below, pinnately 3- to 5-toothed or -lobed above, rough-short-hairy.
Inflorescence a dense, compact, prominently bracted, terminal spike 3-12 cm long, the bracts greenish tipped with white, yellow or pink, 14-22 mm long, oblong to egg-shaped, differing gradually from the leaves, becoming palmately cleft into 2 to 8, short, blunt or rounded lobes; corollas yellow with purple markings, 14-25 mm long, exceeding the bracts and calyces, tubular, club-shaped, 2-lipped, the upper lip beak-like, minutely hairy, straight, 4-5 mm long, the lower lip 3-4 mm long, somewhat inflated, 3-pouched, tipped with 3 erect, slender, purple teeth 1-3 mm long; calyces tubular, long-hairy, 12-20 mm long, 2-cleft, each segment 2-lobed, the lobes linear, shorter than the tube, coloured like the tips of the bracts; stamens 4.
Capsules, ellipsoid, 8-12 mm long; seeds several, 1-2 mm long, with tight-fitting netted coats.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Moist to wet vernal sites, tidal marshes or open grassy brackish sites in the lowland zone; rare on S Vancouver Island; S to CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

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General References