Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)

Scrophulariaceae, or Figwort, is often referred to as the Snapdragon Family. It is well represented on the coast and throughout the Bay Area, and many of it's species have been cultivated for commercial flower production. The family contains 3 of the most well-known California native plants: Paintbrush, Monkey Flower, and Beeplant. Some of the species are semi-parasitic, especifically the Castilleja (paintbrush), which derive some of their nutrients by joining their roots to those of other plants.

Scrophulariaceae flowers have distinctly two-lipped corollas, with the upper lip divided into 2 lobes, and the lower into 3. Mostly. The calyx is usually five-lobed, but may be four-lobed. Most have 2 pairs of stamen, but there may from 2 to 5, in pairs or individual.

On Montara Mountain, Scrophulariaceae members include:

Bellardia trixago

Castilleja affinis
(Indian Paintbrush )

Castilleja densiflora
(Denseflower Owl's Clover)

Castilleja subinclusa franciscana
(Franciscan Paintbrush)

Castilleja wightii
(Wight's Paintbrush )

Mimulas aurantiacus
(Sticky Monkey Flower )

Mimulas guttatus
(Seep-spring Monkey Flower)

Scrophularia californica
(California Bee Plant)

Veronica americana
(American Brooklime)



Castilleja franciscana:
Franciscan Paintbrush

Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)


Flowers: Bright red bracts lining the stem with bright yellow two-inch-long tube-like petals.

Blooms: April - September.

Leaves: Narrow; near base of stem.

Fruit/Seeds: ??

Location: Dry Grassy trails.

Status: Native - Common.

Castilleja franciscana
300x500 JPEG - 36K
Photograph by Bill and Barbara VanderWerf

Further description & Comment: Up to two feet tall. The distinct red bracts and yellow tubular petals make it easily distinguishable from C. affinis (Indian Paintbrush) and C. wightii, (Seaside Paintbrush.)

<<--- 300x500 JPEG - 52K



Castilleja wightii:
Seaside (Wight's / Coast) Paintbrush

Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)

Flowers: Yellow - Orange - Apricot - Red bracts; with 3 nearly equal lobes; in dense clumbs at top of stems like a "paintbrush".

Blooms: April - June.

Leaves: Off central stem, linear at base, transistioning to 3 lobed, morphing into flower color toward top.

Fruit/Seeds: ??

Location: Dry banks and blufftops - all trails.

Status: Native - Common.

Castilleja wightii
600x450 JPEG - 36K
Further description & Comment: 1 - 2 feet tall. Usually in small clusters of plants, occasionally solitairely - prevalent along trails. C. wightii has a much tighter flower head and lacks the extended tube-like petals of Indian Paintbrush (C. affinis) and the Franciscan Paintbrush (C. subinclusa franciscana) has very distinct flower bracts and does not have lobed leaves.

A colony of the orange-yellow variety of C. wightii.
As seen below, the plant has a wide color variation.

Yellow C. wightii hanging out and enjoying the view above Green Valley in McNee Ranch State Park.



Mimulas aurantiacus:
Sticky (Bush) Monkey Flower

Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)

Flowers: Orange and funnel shaped with open faces, 1 inch long.

Blooms: March - November

Leaves: Dark green and glossy, narrow, sticky; in pairs along erect stem.

Fruit/Seeds: ??

Location: It's everywhere.

Status: Native - Common.

Further description & Comment: 1 - 4 ft tall, shrubby, grows in colonies usually intermixed with the other Coastal Scrub/Chapparal signature species: Coastal Sage, Coyote Bush, Yellow Bush Lupine and Poison Oak.

Mimulas aurantiacus
600x450 JPEG - 44K

600x400 JPEG - 68K
Photo by Bill & Barbara Vanderwerf
Sticky Monkey Flower is one of the most pervasive plants on the mountain. You can find some blooming almost any time of the year, but it is most prolific in summer, when the mountain slopes are decorated with its orange flowers set off against the dark green leaves.


Return to Pg 1 of Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)

Continue to Pg 3 of Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)

  Plant Listings by: Family & Latin Name Common Name Color
Top of Page     Home