Purple Owl's Clover

Common Names:
Purple Owl's Clover
Scientific name:
Castilleja exserta ssp. venusta
Elevation range:
2,000 - 3,000 ft.
Flowering Months:
March, April, May
Height | Length:
4 - 18 in.
Life Cycle | Lifeform:
Annual
Pollinator or food source for:
Notes:
Parasite/Hemiparasite
State Occurrences:
Desert region:
Mojave
Comments: 

Purple Owl's Clover is in the same genus (Castilleja) as Paintbrush. As with other Castillejas, it is a hemiparasite so it derives some of its nutrients and water from other plants. Especially if they are not attached to a productive host plant, the leaves will be very small. The "haustoria" (part of the plant that penetrates the roots of other plants) makes it through the host cell wall and plasma membrane but does not penetrate the plant's cell membrane itself, thus keeping the host alive but utilizing its resources.

Purple Owls Clover 1

Purple Owls Clover in the desert

Castilleja exserta ssp.venusta is a hemiparasitic annual herb with maroon bracts tipped in pink. The corolla is two lipped with bright yellow pouch.  Red Rock Canyon State Park | March 24, 2015

Purple Owls Clover 2

Purple Owls Clover in the desert

Castilleja exserta ssp. venusta is an annual herb with deeply-lobed narrow leaves. It grows to a height of about 12 in.  Red Rock Canyon State Park | March 24, 2015