Sonoran Desert Naturalist >>> Field Guide >>> Sonoran Desert Flora >>> Scrophulariaceae >>> Castilleja exserta

Purple Owl's Clover

Castilleja exserta
(Orthocarpus purpurascens)

Photo © by Michael Plagens

This specimen was photographed near the Harquahala Mountains, Arizona, March 2005. The image is hosted by Wikimedia

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.

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 highly variable and hybridizes with other species.

FRUIT: Dry capsules with very small seeds.

Scrophulariaceae -- Figwort Family
(Orobanchaceae -- Broomrape Family)

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2008