Purple Owl’s Clover

The purple owl’s clover  is a species of plant in the genus which includes the Indian paintbrushes. Its scientific name is castilleja exserta, but was also previously cataloged as Orthocarpus purpurascens, and some sources may still refer to it by that name.
It is also known by the common names escobita, and exserted Indian paintbrush.
Native to the Southwestern United Statesin various habitats of California, Arizona, and New Mexico; and to Northwestern Mexico, purple owl’s clover is an annual herb about four to 18 inches tall with a hairy stem covered in thready leaves. It is has been introduced in Hawaii.
Like other related Castilleja plants, purple owl’s clover is a hemiparasite which derives some of its nutrients directly from the roots of other plants by injecting them with haustoria. For this reason, it has small, reduced leaves.
Purple’s owl clover, while variable in appearance and capable of hybridizing with other Castilleja species, generally bears a brightly colored inflorescence of shaggy pink-purple or lavender flowers that resemble clover, though the plant is not related to clover. The thin, erect bracts are usually tipped with the same color, giving the inflorescence the appearance of a paintbrush.
Subspecies include castilleja exserta ssp. exserta, the pale purple owlclover; castilleja exserta ssp. latifolia, the wideleaf Indian paintbrush, which is endemic to coastal California; and castilleja exserta ssp. venusta, which is endemic to California in the Mojave Desert and southern San Joaquin Valley.
Castilleja exserta flowers from March to May. Owl’s Clover is particularly eye-catching when grown in mass plantings
The seeds were harvested by indigenous peoples of California, for food
Owl’s clover is a crucial host plant providing larval food for the Bay checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha bayensis), which is a threatened species that is endemic to the San Francisco Bay region in California.
It also hosts several other butterflies & moths, including the common bBuckeye; junonia coenia; the variable checkerspot, euphydryas chalcedona; schinia pulchripennis; schinia crotchii; the northern checkerspot; chlosyne palla; Edith’s checkerspot; euphydryas editha; and leanira checkerspot; chlosyne leanira.
Though severely impacted by development and by invasive species, wild displays of these wildflowers can still be found throughout California.
From Wikipedia, https://calscape.org, https://www.naturesseed.com and https://www.larnerseeds.com.

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