A singular species known as a parasite, because its roots absorb nourishment from those of other plants upon which they fasten themselves. It is an annual or biennial plant growing a foot or two high in scattered patches in meadows, prairies, and moist thickets. The reddish, hairy, angular, and rather slender, hollow stem occasionally bears erect branches, and rises from a tuft of uncut, oblong leaves. The alternating stem leaves are usually deeply cut into three segments or lobes, and are stemless and parallel-veined. Their colour is light green, and the surface is slightly hairy. The upper leaves, as well as those which are gathered about the flowers, have their ends coloured with bright scarlet, as if they had been dipped in paint.

SCARLET PAINTED CUP. Castilleja coccinea

SCARLET PAINTED CUP. Castilleja coccinea.

This feature is unusually showy and attractive. The irregular greenish yellow corolla of the tubular flower has a long, narrow arched upper lip, and a short three-lobed lower lip, and is set in a longer, flattened, tubular, two-lobed and usually green or sometimes scarlet calyx. The flowers are hidden within their conspicuous, three-parted, bright red or scarlet bracts. They have four unequal stamens, and a long pistil set within the long upper lip of the flowers, which are closely grouped in a terminal leafy cluster. The Painted-cup is found from May to July, in low, sandy grounds, from Canada to Virginia, Tennessee, Kansas and Texas. Rarely the bracts and calyxes are yellow. This species was dedicated to a Spanish botanist named Castillejo.