A tour of the paintbrushes

Summer in the Rockies is a colorful season, especially thanks to the diversity of paintbrushes (Castilleja spp.) This genus contains hundreds of species that are well known for their colorful blooms. Their bright colors hide a dark secret – like many species in the family Orobanchaceae, paintbrushes are parasites – they steal resources from the roots of neighboring plants. Here is a gallery of some of my favorite species.

First, the sulfur paintbrush – Castilleja sulphurea.

Next, a red paintbrush – Castilleja miniata.

And finally, a purple species – probably Castilleja rhexifolia (not to be confused with exserta, which looks like a clover except for the leaves).

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