Castilleja is by no means an easy genus to identify for an amateur like me. There are over 200 species in the United States and 17 in Wyoming. Probably everyone in Wyoming is familiar with Castilleja linariifolia, our state flower. It is bright red to orange-red and is truly spectacular in its sagebrush dominated native habitat.
The colorful heads, what we think of as the “flower” in Paintbrush, are actually leafy bracts. Castilleja are also known to be partially parasitic, feeding off the roots of nearby plants. The first photo is of Castillejaa linariifolia. In this shot you can see the actual flower parts sticking out from the bracts.
I don’t know the species in the second photo, but I refer to this particular plant as the Mother of All Paintbrush because it is bordering on sub-shrub size, something I had not seen before with this particular species in my part of Wyoming.