CPC Plant Profile: Ash Grey Indian-paintbrush
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Plant Profile

Ash Grey Indian-paintbrush (Castilleja cinerea)

Castilleja cinerea paintbrush in flower. Photo Credit: Chelsea Vollmer
Description
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Threatened
  • Family: Orobanchaceae
  • State: CA
  • Nature Serve ID: 156795
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 09/23/2021

Castilleja cinerea (ash-gray paintbrush) is a hemiparasitic perennial herb in the broomrape family (Orobanchaceae) that flowers from June to July (Hickman 1993). This species has a highly variable inflorescence color; the flower bracts range in color from yellow to red. Castilleja cinerea was listed as threatened by the federal government in 1998. Castilleja cinerea occurs in a unique habitat called pebble plains (also known as pavement plains). Pebble plain habitat is of limited distribution (occurring only in the San Bernardino Mountains) and supports a biologically rich but highly threatened plant community that consists of small cushion forming plants, minute annuals, grasses, and succulents. Pebble plains are open treeless areas that consist of clay soil (up to 53%) mixed with a pavement of quartzite pebbles and gravel that are pushed to the surface through frost action (USDA FS 2007a). The combination of clay soil, frost heaving, extreme temperature fluctuations, high light intensity, and desiccating winds is thought to prevent the establishment of tree species on pebble plains (USDA FS 2007b).

Participating Institutions
Updates
  • 09/07/2020
  • Genetic Research

Pollination and genetic studies for C. cinerea found that pollen transfer was observed at a distance of less than four meters and seed dispersal was limited to about five meters from a pebble plain edge; however, seed dispersal by animals was not examined in this study (USDA FS 2007a).

  • 09/01/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

Based on an September 2020 extract of the California Plant Rescue Database, California Botanic Garden holds 5 accessions of Castilleja cinerea in orthodox seed collection. There are as many as 87527 seeds of this species in their collection - although some may have been used for curation testing or sent to back up.

  • 08/05/2020
  • Seed Collection

Based on an August 2020 extract of the California Plant Rescue Database, California Botanic Garden has collected 1 seed accessions of Castilleja cinerea from 1 plant occurrences listed in the California Natural Diversity Database. These collections together emcompass 5 maternal plants

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Narrowly endemic to the eastern end of the San Bernardino Mountains in southern California. There are about 48 occurrences but a number of sites are in poor condition. Heavy recreational use, including off-road vehicle use, and ski area and campground development, is adversely affecting the species' habitat. Trampling and grazing by livestock is also a threat.

Naomi Fraga
  • 01/01/2010

Pebble plain habitat was likely destroyed due to the creation of Big Bear Lake in the 1880s. Residential and commercial development has also contributed to habitat loss. Other threats include existing roads and trails bisecting habitat, increased recrea

Naomi Fraga
  • 01/01/2010

The California Natural Diversity database reports 33 occurrences of C. cinerea (CNDDB 2007

Naomi Fraga
  • 01/01/2010

Pollination and genetic studies for C. cinerea found that pollen transfer was observed at a distance of less than four meters and seed dispersal was limited to about five meters from a pebble plain edge; however, seed dispersal by animals was not examined in this study (USDA FS 2007a).

Naomi Fraga
  • 01/01/2010

Barriers and signs have been installed to direct recreation use, and eight road segments affecting pebble plains were decommissioned in 1999. The Pebble Plain Habitat Management Guide was recently revised (2002). Conservation practices that should be considered for this species include (USDA FS 2007a): Implement strategies within the Pebble Plain Habitat Management Guide to the greatest extent practicable. Utilize the habitat suitability criteria and detection protocols developed for this taxon and apply to surveys at the project level. Survey all new occurrences of C. cinerea and any occurrences that have not been visited in the past ten years, and record occurrence status, habitat condition, and threats. Collect a herbarium voucher specimen of C. cinerea to document new occurrences or to verify a historical occurrence if the occurrence is not known to have been documented in at least ten years prior. Map known and new occurrences of C. cinerea in the plan area using NRIS data collection standards, and incorporate these occurrences into the GIS corporate database

Naomi Fraga
  • 01/01/2010

Survey all new occurrences of C. cinerea and any occurrences that have not been visited in the past ten years, and record occurrence status, habitat condition, and threats.

Naomi Fraga
  • 01/01/2010

Establish and maintain a genetically representative seed bank.

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Castilleja cinerea
Authority Gray
Family Orobanchaceae
CPC Number 807
ITIS 33058
USDA CACI6
Common Names Ash Grey Indian Paintbrush
Associated Scientific Names Castilleja cinerea | Orthocarpus cinereus
Distribution Castilleja cinerea is known from Holcomb Valley to the north, south to South Fork Meadow, Fish Camp to the west and east to Onyx Peak (USDA FS 2007a, CNDDB 2007).
State Rank
State State Rank
California S2
Habitat

Castilleja cinera inhabits clay soils, pebble plains, dry meadows and openings within conifer forest, pinyon juiper woodland and Mojavean desert scrub at elevations of 5,850-9,200 ft (1,800-2,835 m) (USDA FS 2007a, USFWS 1998). Pebble plains are open treeless areas that consist of clay soil (up to 53%) mixed with a pavement of quartzite pebbles and gravel that are pushed to the surface through frost action (USDA FS 2007a). The combination of clay soil, frost heaving, extreme temperature fluctuations, high light intensity, and desiccating winds is thought to prevent the establishment of tree species on pebble plains (USDA FS 2007b).

Ecological Relationships

Castilleja cinerea is a root parasite on various shrubby species including Artemisia tridentata, A. nova, Eriogonum kennedeyi var. austromontanum, E. kennedeyi var. kennedeyi, and E. wrightii var. subscaposum (USDA FS 2007a)

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID

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