Ash-gray Indian Paintbrush

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Ash-gray Indian Paintbrush

Castilleja cinerea

ListedSeptember 14, 1998
FamilyScrophulariaceae (Snapdragon)
DescriptionA perennial, herbaceous wildflower
HabitatPebble plains, and to a lesser degree in pine forest
ThreatsHabitat destruction and degradation by urbanization, trampling by off-road vehicles, changes in hydrology, and vandalism.


Ash-gray Indian paintbrush, Castilleja cinerea, a member of the snapdragon family (Scrophulariaceae), is a semiparasitic perennial with several, ascending to decumbent (trailing), grayish stems sprouting from the root-crown. The stems are 4-8 in (10-15 cm) tall. The inflorescence (flower stalk) is greenish yellow (occasionally reddish-orange tinged) with distinctive yellowish hairs on the lower bracts. The calyx (united sepals) is nearly equally divided into linear lobes, and the corolla is yellowish. It flowers primarily in June and July. Ash-gray Indian paintbrush is distinguished from other species of Castilleja within its range by its perennial nature, ashy-puberulent (short hairs) stems and leaves, yellowish flowers, and calyx lobes of equal length.


Most populations occur on pebble plains, but ash-gray Indian paintbrush is also found in pine forest habitats.


Ash-gray Indian paintbrush is known from fewer than 20 localities at the eastern end of the San Bernardino Mountains, California. Most populations occur on pebble plains, but ash-gray Indian paintbrush is also found in the Snow Valley Ski Area, along Sugarloaf Ridge, and in the vicinity of Lost Creek. Ash-gray Indian paintbrush is known to occur on private lands, California Department of Fish and Game land, and Forest Service land including that leased for vacation homes and a ski area.


This species is imperiled by a variety of activities that result in habitat modification, destruction, degradation, and fragmentation. These activities include urbanization, timber harvesting, off-road vehicle activity, alteration of hydrological conditions, and vandalism. These activities have been particularly destructive of the pebble plains habitat of the paintbrush.

Conservation and Recovery

The most important action needed to conserve the ash-gray Indian paintbrush is to protect the remnants of its pebble plains habitat. Only nine complexes of this habitat survive, totaling about 545 acres (220 hectares). About 514 acres (208 hectares) are administered by the Forest Service, while 32 acres (13 hectares) are on private land. The critical habitat on land administered by the Forest Service must be protected from threatening activities, such as intensive recreation use by off-road vehicles on the pebble plains, and timber harvesting in pine forest containing the rare paintbrush. This can be done by ensuring that these threatening activities are not permitted by the Management Plan for the Forest Service lands, or under the terms of residential and commercial leasing agreements. Consideration should also be made for protecting the critical habitat on private land. This could be done by acquiring the land and establishing an ecological reserve, or by negotiating conservation easements. The populations of the ash-gray Indian paintbrush should be monitored, and research undertaken into its biology and habitat needs.


U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Regional Office, Division of Endangered Species
Eastside Federal Complex
911 N. E. 11th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97232-4181
Telephone: (503) 231-6121

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Carlsbad Field Office
2730 Loker Avenue West Carlsbad,
California 92008
Telephone: (760) 431-9440
Fax: (760) 431-9624


U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 14 September 1998. "Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: Final Rule to Determine Endangered or Threatened Status for Six Plants from the Mountains of Southern California." Federal Register 63 (177): 49006-49022.