Harsh Paintbrush (Castilleja hispida)
The many different species of this genus of the figwort family are notoriously hard to distinguish from one another, even for botanists. Members of the same species can display different colors, habitats and “hairyness.” We’re relying on our sources that this is the right time and place for the hispida variety. Chances are, if you’re seeing a fiery orange and yellow variety in dry, rocky slopes in the gorge right now (May), this is what you’re seeing. The genus name honors Spanish botanist Domingo Castillejo (1744-1793). Hispida means “with bristly hairs”. We’re not sure whether “harsh” also refers to the roughness of the hairs that cover the plant, or to the rocky, exposed terrain that it prefers. Compare to rupicola and miniata.