Castilleja sessiliflora (Downy Painted-cup)

Plant Info
Also known as: Downy Paintbrush, Yellow Painted-cup
Family:Orobanchaceae (Broomrape)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:sun; dry prairies, limey soil
Bloom season:May - July
Plant height:4 to 12 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Flower shape: tubular Cluster type: spike

[photo of flowers] Flowers are in a dense, leafy spike along the upper half of the stem. Individual flowers are about 1 inch long, pale yellow to greenish, tubular with a long slender upper lip and a shorter lower lip, lobed in 3 parts. The leafy bracts are softly hairy and shorter than the flower.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are 1 to 3 inches long, narrow with rounded tips or narrowly lobed in 3 parts, softly hairy, toothless, with no leaf stalk. Stems are densely hairy and unbranched, though a plant typically has multiple stems.


Downy Painted-cup is partially parasitic. Host plants include various native prairie grasses, such as hairy grama and June grass, as well as other wildflowers. All of the Castilleja species were formerly in family Scrophulariaceae (Figwort) but have been reassigned to Orobanchaceae (Broomrape) along with other parasitic plants.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Lost Valley SNA, Washington County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Ken - Red Wing
on: 2013-03-08 09:48:17

I saw this plant for the first time on a MN Native Plant Society field trip in May of 2008 to Barn Bluff in Red Wing. Hoping to see it again this May when we revisit the bluff for another field trip.

Posted by: Nancy - Glacial Lakes State Park
on: 2021-05-31 14:41:07

The worst ticks ever but the prairie was worth it!

Posted by: Robert - St. Louis Park
on: 2023-01-12 17:18:20

I grew up on a ranch in NW South Dakota. We walked the hills in early summer looking for what we called "Prairie Honeysuckle", primarily because you could pull the flowers carefully and get a one or two drops of delicious nectar. It was so worth the adventure. Given our drier summer weather cycles, I am trying to get it established in the drier parts of my yard. It would be fun to show the kids!

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