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University of Guelph


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601 Gordon St, Guelph, ON
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Golden Paintbrush

GRIPP Golden Paintbrush Castilleja levisecta

Species name

Castilleja levisecta Greenm.

Conservation Status in Canada

According to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), this species was listed as endangered in 2000 and 2007. It is also listed as schedule 1 and endangered under the Species. At Risk Act (SARA).

Distribution and Habitat

Golden paintbrush is known to exist in at least 30 sites which are distributed in the Puget Trough of Washington and British Columbia, moving south to the Willamette Valley Oregon. Many of these sites are now extirpated, for example in Canada only 2 of 8 known sites remain and are restricted to maritime meadows found on southeastern Vancouver Island and a neighboring offshore island.

Why this Species Matters

The Canadian population represents ~ 20% of the global population for golden paintbrush. Also, this species is a larval host for Taylor’s checkerspot (Euphydryas editha taylori) an endangered butterfly which is a subspecies to Edith’s checkerspot (Euphydryas editha). Despite now having a much more restricted distribution, the yellow color produced by its inflorescence contributes significantly to prairie and meadow landscapes of the pacific northwest, being the only flowering species possessing this color.

  • Habitat loss due to encroachment from shrub and forest lands.
  • Fire suppression
  • Invasive species
  • Recreational activities
  • Herbivory
What is GRIPP doing?

Effective protocols for cryopreserving golden paintbrush have been developed to store plant germplasm in GRIPPs cryobank. Using plant tissue culture, 268 golden paintbrush plants were produced via micropropagation and transported to the Conservation Nursery in Fort Rodd Hill, Canada. After 2 months in the nursery, 153 plants were planted by Parks Canada staff back into their native environment. Efforts to monitor the long-term survival of planted golden paintbrush is currently underway.

  1. Salama A, Shukla MR, Popova E, Fisk N, Jones AMP, Saxena PK. (2018). In vitro propagation andre-introduction of Golden Paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta), a critically imperiled plant species. Canadian Journal of Plant Science.
  2. Salama A, Popova E, Jones AMP, Shukla MR, Fisk N, Saxena PK. (2018). Cryopreservation of the critically endangered golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta): from nature to cryobank to nature. In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology — Plant.
Read a full report on the conservation status of this species.