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Paintbrush Project 

is comprised of a group of researchers and staff from the Botany Department at the University of Wyoming. This project has both scientific and outreach goals surrounding the parasitic plant genus Castilleja, commonly referred to as Paintbrush!

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The Science

Castilleja are a genus of plants that are considered 

generalist root hemiparasites.

Research shows that over evolutionary timeframes, hemiparasites will eventually transition to holoparasitism.


Researchers in the Paintbrush Project study haustoria connections between a Castilleja specimen and its host plant to learn more about the Castilleja's parasitic tendencies.They think that because of this evolutionary shift, large hemiparasitic groups, like Castilleja, should show some variation in host preference rather than being true generalists. These researchers aim to investigate host preference across all Castilleja species.

See images showing the haustoria and root interactions between Castilleja specimens and their host plants.

The Outreach
Goals of Outreach:


Help our community incorporate paintbrush plants into their home gardens​​


Educate about the amazing diversity of Castilleja in Wyoming!

Researchers from the Paintbrush Project teamed up with the Rocky Mountain Herbarium and the Williams Conservatory to help bridge the gap between their scientific research and the broader public. 

Explore Castilleja species from Wyoming
Sagebrush Steppe Species:
Shrubland / Woodland Species:
Prairie Species:
Subalpine / Alpine Species:
The Paintbrush Project is brought to you by the Tank Lab at the University of Wyoming's Botany Department.
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