Purple Owl's Clover

Castilleja exserta
(Orthocarpus purpurascens)

Photo © by Michael Plagens

Harquahala Mountains, Arizona, March 2005.

SPRING/ANNUAL: In favorable locations following wet winters this wildflower will cover vast swaths with vivid magenta contrasting with other swaths of rainbow-colored flowers. The root systems can penetrate those of other nearby plants and are parasitic.

Near Aguila, Maricopa County, Arizona on 19 March 2005.

FLOWERS: The actual flowers are rather small; the vivid color is due as much to the pigmented surrounding bracts and upper leaves as to the flower petals.

LEAVES: Leaves are 'pinnatifid', i.e. they are divided into linear segments almost to the mid-rib. Leaves and herbage are finely hirsute.

RANGE: Sonoran Desert of Arizona particularly on desert pavement and relatively flat areas. This species like other members of Castilleja is variable.

FRUIT: Dry capsules with very small seeds.

Orobachaceae -- Broomrape Family)

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More Information:

Sonoran Desert Field Guide
Sonoran Desert Places
Sonoran Desert Naturalist Home Page


Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 6 Nov. 2007,
updated 7 May 2017.