Owls Clover (Castilleja exserta) is a small flowering plant which can grow about 1 foot tall. The Owl’s Clover is a native plant to California, Arizona, New Mexico and the Northwestern areas of Mexico. Like other Castilleja plants, which also includes the Indian Paintbrushes, the Owl’s Clover is hemiparasitic which means that it obtains its nutrients from the roots of other plants.
The Owls Cover blooms from March to May and may be found at elevations from 2000 ft to 3000 ft. The plant ranges in height from 4 to 18 inches in height. The underdeveloped, hairy stemmed leaves are threaded in appearance because they are not needed for nutrients or photosynthesis. Rather, the roots of this plant will growth into the root structures of other plants around it, stealing the nutrients from it.
The thin, erect bracts are usually tipped in the same color. This will give the flower a dual tone color and the appearance a paintbrush dipped in paint. This is the source of the the paintbrush common name of other plants in this genus.
The seeds of the Owl’s clover were harvested and utilized as a food source by the indigenous peoples of California.