The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
Denver Botanic Gardens
Red Butte Garden and Arboretum
The conservation of Castilleja christii is fully sponsored.
Thomas Grant contributed to this Plant Profile.
Castilleja christii is one of Idaho's rarest plants--it is found in a single population in the Albion Mountains of Cassia County, Idaho. It was named after John H. Christ, the first botanist to collect this species. This showy perennial herb grows from 6 to 8 inches tall and produces yellow to yellow-orange flowering spike. (Holmgren 1973, USFWS 1995)
This and other paintbrush species are often believed to be purely parasitic, meaning that they survive by using resources produced in another plant host. However, it is actually hemi-parasitic, meaning that it is capable of independent production of nutrients but gains additional nutrients through root attachments with surrounding plants (Kuijt 1969, Borland 1988,Burbridge 1991, Heckard 1988).
Distribution & Occurrence
This species is found in grassy upper sub-alpine meadows along the crest and slope of the mountain in loamy gravel and occurs most often in areas where snowdrifts remain into early summer. The rocky ridge at 9,100 ft. is scattered with quartzite and mica schist stones and boulders. (Holmgren 1973)
Found among Poa sandbergii (Little Bluegrass), Festuca idahoensis (blue bunchgrass), Solidago multiraciata (Alpine Goldenrod) Achillea millefolium (Yarrow), and Pedicularis contorta (Coiled-beak Lousewort). (Holmgren 1973)
|One population at Mount Harrison in the Sawtooth National Forest, Cassia County, Idaho. (Holmgren 1973, Mosely 1997)|
Conservation, Ecology & Research
Reproduction is by seed, but nothing is known about seed dispersal or seed bank dynamics. (Mancuso 1996)
Pollinators are unknown.
Seed germination studies by Denver Botanic Gardens suggest that this species has a strong seed dormancy, as they may require three months or more of cool, moist conditions to germinate. This is likely a remnant of the species' biology, as it is found in a habitat where deep snow is common and has even been documented to last throughout the summer months. (Mancuso 1996)
Burbridge, W.R. 1991. Christ's Indian paintbrush. Threatened, Endangered, and Sensitive Species of the Intermountain Region.