Castilleja applegatei – Wavy leaf paintbrush

Seed Packet

Perennial Wildflower

21 in stock

SKU: CAAP4 Category:


Wavy leaf paintbrush is a spectacular, bright red, showy, perennial species of paintbrush that thrives in rocky, dry sites in various habitat types throughout the Klamath-Siskiyou region, including dry, open meadows, openings in mixed conifer forests, pine/oak woodlands and chaparral. It is a widespread species of the American West, with five different subspecies, growing in Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho and Wyoming. It also is referred to by the additional common name, Applegate’s paintbrush. It typically grows 1.5 – 2.5′ tall, depending on site conditions. It has sticky foliage and green leaves with wavy edges, hence the common name, wavy leaf paintbrush. The red-orange bracts of the inflorescence put on quite a show when in bloom in late spring to early summer, depending on elevation. It is slow growing from seed, but once established it puts on a gorgeous display that attracts hummingbirds and other pollinators. It is also a larval host plant for numerous butterfly and moths species, including checkerspot butterflies. This species is in the broomrape (Orobanchaceae) plant family. Several subspecies of wavy leaf paintbrush grow in the Klamath-Siskiyou region. Our seed is usually the most common subspecies, Castilleja applegatei ssp. pinetorum. Like other species of Castilleja, wavy leaf paintbrush is hemiparasitic, feeding off the roots of a host plant, where it gets some of its nutrients. It will only grow and thrive with a host plant. Host plants vary by site, but native grasses, forbs and shrubs are generally host plants. We have had success growing wavy leaf paintbrush alongside Roemer’s fescue (Festuca roemeri).

Tara Luna wrote, in “Propagation Protocol for Indian Paintbrush Castilleja species” (Native Plants Journal, Volume 6, Number 1, Spring 2005, pp. 62-68):

“Unlike a true parasitic plant, hemi-parasites are capable of manufacturing their own food and obtaining water and nutrients from soil, but they also form specialized roots known as haustoria roots that attach to the roots of a host plant, therby providing addtional water uptake for the paintbrush plant and possibly some organic and inorganic nutrients. The relationship does not kill the host. Seeds do not require a signal from the host to initiate germination, and they contain endosperm that provides enough energy for the seedling to establish independently. Unless a haustorium root becomes attached to a host root, however, they will decline in vigor, remain stunted in growth, and never flower, or they will eventually die. The degree that a species can grow and develop wthout the host may vary widely between species.”

Wavy leaf paintbrush (Castilleja applegatei) seed packets contain approximately 100 seeds per packet.

Seed Germination Instructions

90-120 days cold-moist stratification.

Sow seeds in pots (with host species) or direct sow outside (next to host species) in fall with a light dusting of soil over the seeds and let nature do the stratification naturally outside, if you have cold enough winters. For more information please read through the information in our Seed Germination and Propagation Reference Guide.

Additional information



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