Castilleja grisea

Common Names:
San Clemente Island Indian paintbrush
Growth Habit:
Subshrub, Forb/herb
CPC Number:
Profile Contributors:
Fully Sponsored

Reference Links

ITIS - Tropicos - USDA Plants - Fish & WildLife

Participating Institutions

The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

The conservation of Castilleja grisea is fully sponsored.


Plants in the genus Castilleja are generally referred to as paintbrushes, with vibrant flowers resembling paintbrushes themselves, these plants are often considered among the most beautiful of the United States' wildflowers. The San Clemente Island paintbrush is endemic to the Channel Island of San Clemente and is in danger of becoming extinct. This species was discovered in 1894, but not officially recognized as a new species and named as such until 1939. This yellow-flowering paintbrush was quite common on the cliffs of San Clemente Island until 1963, when Peter Raven noted that the species was only occasionally found along the coast of the island and only rarely in the canyonsides there. In 1977, this species became one of the first ever to be listed as Federally Endangered. By 1978, a frequent visitor to the island stated that during the course of several trips he had been able to locate only three plants, all of them in inaccessible areas on the canyon walls of the island. (Mohlenbrock 1983)

What caused this rapid decline The decline of the San Clemente Island paintbrush coincides with the introduction of feral goats to the island. The only plants that were capable of surviving the hooves and teeth of these goats were those that even the most agile goat couldn't reach--those on extreme cliff faces.

Distribution & Occurrence


Conservation, Ecology & Research