Species Profile

Golden Paintbrush

Scientific Name: Castilleja levisecta
Taxonomy Group: Vascular Plants
COSEWIC Range: British Columbia
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: November 2007
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: B1ab(iii,v)+2ab(iii,v)
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: The species is a perennial hemiparasitic herb of maritime meadows found within the Garry oak ecosystem of southeastern Vancouver Island. The species has lost most of its historic populations, having once been known from 7 locations. One small population was extirpated in recent years. The species is presently reduced to two populations on two small islands in the Victoria area. The spread of invasive alien plants continues to place the species at risk on Trial Island.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Threatened in April 1995. Status re-examined and designated Endangered in May 2000 and in November 2007.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2003-06-05

Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.

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Quick Links: | Photo | Description | Distribution and Population | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | Recovery Team | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Golden Paintbrush

Golden Paintbrush Photo 1

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Description

Golden Paintbrush is a perennial herb that grows 10 to 50 cm tall. It usually has several clustered stems growing from a common base. Individual plants produce one to three sticky flowering shoots with long, soft hairs. The leaves are downy and are arranged alternately along the stem. The lower leaves have no teeth or lobes and are long and narrow, while the upper leaves are somewhat oval-shaped, with one to three short lobes on each side. The flowers, which are small, are clustered at the end of the shoot in a spike largely concealed by golden yellow bracts (specialized leaves). These bracts are hairy, blunt and about as wide as the upper leaves. The flower petals are fused in a tube with a two-lipped structure at the end. The upper lip is beaklike and is three or four times longer than the lower lip. The fruit is a dry capsule that contains 70 to 150 minute seeds.

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Distribution and Population

The range of Golden Paintbrush runs from Vancouver Island in Canada west of the Cascade Mountains to northwestern Oregon in the United States at low elevations. In Canada, the species is restricted to the Gulf Islands, the small islands offshore of Victoria, British Columbia. Golden Paintbrush has been reported from eight locations in Canada, only two of which have extant populations. According to the most recent data, there was a total of 3361 flowering plants in 2006. This appears to represent a population decrease of about 25% since the mid-1990s, primarily on Alpha Islet. The potential for rescue effect is slight, since nearby populations in the United States are small and are separated by about 10 km of open ocean; in addition, the seeds are poorly adapted to long-distance transport.

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Habitat

Golden Paintbrush is restricted to maritime meadows. In Canada, these low-elevation (under 30 m) habitats are confined to southeastern Vancouver Island and the adjacent offshore islands. Summer temperatures are greatly moderated by the proximity of these sites to the ocean. Coastal fogs and the proximity to the water also tend to moderate winter frosts and reduce the build-up of heat (heat may slow down the development of plants). These regions are also characterized by summer droughts and low annual precipitation.

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Biology

The plant enters dormancy in July, when drought sets in. Shoot dormancy begins to break as early as mid-September, when the soil becomes moist. By January, most shoots have broken dormancy. Shoots begin to grow in March. Flowering peaks in April and May, although flowering usually continues into June. Seed set is critical for Golden Paintbrush, since it is the plant’s only known method of reproduction. The species likely reproduces by cross-pollination (its flowers must be fertilized by pollen from other flowers). Green fruit develop from May to July, and ripe, unopened fruit are usually present from July to early September. Seeds are gradually shed until late November or December, at which point most of the ripe seeds have dispersed. Each fruit capsule typically contains over 100 minute seeds. The seeds lack adaptations to assist in long-distance dispersal. They appear to be shed when wind shakes the ripened fruit. Like other species in the genus Castilleja, Golden Paintbrush is a facultative parasite on the roots of other plants. For example, related species are capable of completing their life cycle in the absence of a host, but most individuals exhibit faster growth rates when they have root connections with another species. Castilleja species obtain supplementary water and nutrients by forming special root-like connections that attach to the roots of host plants. In certain areas, Golden Paintbrush may be an important host plant for Taylor’s checkerspot, a nationally endangered butterfly.

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Threats

The destruction of maritime meadows is the main factor limiting Golden Paintbrush populations. The amount of potential habitat on southeastern Vancouver Island and the adjacent offshore islands has decreased greatly over the past century as maritime meadows have been developed for residential and recreational use. The historical range of Golden Paintbrush in Canada lies at the heart of one of North America’s fastest-growing regions. As a result, there will be continued pressure to develop maritime meadow habitat capable of supporting the species. Fire suppression and the introduction of exotic species are also contributing to the extirpation of Golden Paintbrush. In the past, burning by First Nations to improve food crops maintained these maritime meadows. Fire suppression now favours the growth of dense patches of native shrubs and trees where Golden Paintbrush cannot survive. Several introduced species, including Scotch broom, gorse and English ivy, have invaded maritime meadows, forming dense thickets that overshadow native species and modify soil conditions. On Trial Island, Golden Paintbrush continues to be threatened by the spread of invasive alien plants. The decline and eventual extirpation of Golden Paintbrush at Beacon Hill Park appears to have been hastened by summer mowing, which removed flowers before they had matured. The last remaining plants were growing in what is still an open meadow apparently capable of supporting Golden Paintbrush. The threat posed by grazing is poorly known, because both of the extant Canadian populations are on small islands with no mammalian herbivores. Certain insects and other arthropods may feed on these plants, but damage is usually slight. However, herbivory may have contributed to the loss of Canadian populations in the past. Marine pollution may pose a threat to Golden Paintbrush in Canada because both extant populations occur just above sea level along the most crowded and heavily used shipping lanes in North America north of San Francisco.

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Protection

Federal Protection

The Golden Paintbrush is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

Golden Paintbrush on the Canadian Coast Guard site at Trial Island is on federal lands protected under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). The species is not currently protected under any provincial legislation in British Columbia. However, Golden Paintbrush plants in the ecological reserves that include Trial Island and Alpha Islet are protected under the British Columbia Park Act.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for Multi-Species at Risk in Maritime Meadows associated with Garry Oak Ecosystems in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry

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Recovery Team

Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team

  • Conan Webb - Chair/Contact - Parks Canada
    Phone: 250-478-5153  Send Email

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Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

13 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the Golden Paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta) in Canada (2008-08-28)

    Golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta) is a perennial herb, usually producing several clustered stems from a common base. The hairy leaves are alternate and attached to the stem. The lower leaves are simple and narrow while the upper leaves are egg-shaped and have 1-3 pairs of short lateral lobes. The inflorescence is a prominently bracted terminal spike. The bracts are hairy, large, golden yellow, blunt and about as wide as the upper leaves. The tips of the bracts have 1-3 pairs of short lobes. The flowers are largely concealed by the bracts. The corolla consists of fused petals that form a 2-lipped structure at the end of a corolla tube. The upper lip is beak-like and 3-4 times as long as the lower lip. There are four stamens and a single stigma and style. Fertilized ovaries develop into a dry capsule that contains 70-150 minute seeds which have a loose, net-veined seed coat.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Golden Paintbrush (2008-11-26)

    The species is a perennial hemiparasitic herb of maritime meadows found within the Garry oak ecosystem of southeastern Vancouver Island. The species has lost most of its historic populations, having once been known from 7 locations. One small population was extirpated in recent years. The species is presently reduced to two populations on two small islands in the Victoria area. The spread of invasive alien plants continues to place the species at risk on Trial Island.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for Multi-Species at Risk in Maritime Meadows associated with Garry Oak Ecosystems in Canada (2016-11-04)

    This strategy has been developed to address the recovery of seven plant and two butterfly species and their associated habitats. These species are all characterized by one or more of the following: total population decline, small distributions with decline or fluctuation, loss of habitat, declining small population sizes or very small populations or restricted distribution (COSEWIC 2003b). Unless recovery actions are initiated, these species may become extinct or extirpated from Canada.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2007 - 2008 (2008-08-28)

    2008 Annual Report to the The Minister of the Environment and the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

Permits and Related Agreements

  • Explanation for issuing permit(#16), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2006-05-12)

    The SAR at each site occurs in open meadows that are being encroached by Scotch broom, English ivy, gorse, English holly, Daphne spurge, thistles and/or conifers. Our goal is to remove the invading species from the area adjacent to the selected subpopulations. Invasive removal will likely increase habitat availability and prevent future competition, should these invasive species invade further into the meadow. Also, elimination of competition is hypothesized to increase plant vigour, seed production, and over time, population size.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#59-05-0365), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2005-04-13)

    The number of plants, by phenological/demographic stage, are tracked and described in marked quadrats using non-destructive sampling techniques. Where possible, plants are simply counted by phenological stage and demographic class. Occasionally, fruits are collected in order to count seeds using a dissecting microscope. In experimental establishment studies, germination, establishment and survival of selected species are documented in experimental treatment sites. These treatment sites will be restricted to sites currently unoccupied by these or other species at risk. Invasive shrubs and herbs threatening populations of the aforementioned species at risk are removed in the vicinity of plants at risk.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#FRH-2016-21599-SARA ), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2016-06-01)

    Parks Canada will collect seeds or other propagules, grow plants in a nursery, prepare and maintain translocation sites and out-plant the resulting stock to suitable sites at Gulf Islands National Park Reserve and or Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site to increase populations of a number of species at risk in coastal sand dune and Garry Oak ecosystems, as per the recovery strategies for the species.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#GINP-2012-10633), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2012-04-01)

    This project aims to establish a small-scale experimental translocation of golden paintbrush, an endangered species listed under Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act, to an islet in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, British Columbia. This project will enhance the recovery of the species by addressing key knowledge gaps about the species, and helping to meet the stated recovery strategy goals in accordance with Species at Risk Act. The work involves out-planting golden paintbrush plants at two translocation sites; treating and monitoring transplanted plants; and possible exotic plant control.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#GINP-2020-37539), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2020-04-01)

    This is a conservation and restoration project for species at risk at the Parks Canada Coastal British Columbia Field Unit. The project aims to increase the supply of propagative material for a number of plant species at risk within the field unit; implement recovery actions outlined in Parks Canada's multi-species action plans for Gulf Islands National Park Reserve and Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site; and improve knowledge on the best practices for the propagation, enhancement, translocation and habitat management of these species at risk. Propagative material (seed and rhizome) will be collected from species at risk in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve from May through October and will be sown outdoors in the Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site conservation nursery from September through March. Propagative material from Coastal Scouler's Catchfly and Golden Paintbrush will be collected from populations on Mini D'Arcy Islet. Propagative material from Contorted-pod Evening-primrose will be collected from the population on Sidney Island. Contorted-pod Evening primrose may be affected by some localized trampling of the species and Common Nighthawk may be flushed from their nests. This project specifically addresses the species threats outlined in the recovery strategies and is believed necessary to secure the persistence of these plant species in Canada.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#GINP2007-1050), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2007-04-01)

    This project aims to establish a small-scale experimental translocation of golden paintbrush, an endangered species listed under Schedule 1 of SARA, to an islet in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, B.C. This project will enhance the recovery of the species by addressing key knowledge gaps about the species, and helping to meet the stated recovery strategy goals in accordance with SARA. The work involves out-planting golden paintbrush plants at two translocation sites; treating and monitoring transplanted plants; and possible exotic plant control.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#GINPR-2007-1050), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2009-05-01)

    This project aims to establish a small-scale experimental translocation of golden paintbrush, an endangered species listed under Schedule 1 of SARA, to an islet in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, B.C. This project will enhance the recovery of the species by addressing key knowledge gaps about the species, and helping to meet the stated recovery strategy goals in accordance with SARA. The work involves out-planting golden paintbrush plants at two translocation sites; treating and monitoring transplanted plants; and possible exotic plant control.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SARA-PYR-2007-0050), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2007-05-08)

    In order to protect a suite of SARA Schedule 1 plants at risk from habitat degradation at various federal properties, invasive species will be removed from the area adjacent to sub-populations of these species at risk by pulling by hand or manually cutting. Invasion of exotic species has been identified as a serious and increasing threat to these sub-populations. The invasive species biomass will be removed from the sites. Removal of invasive plants is believed to increase habitat availability for plants at risk, prevent future competition, as well as increase plant vigour, seed production and population size.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SARA-PYR-2008-0080), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2008-09-01)

    This project will establish small-scale experimental translocated populations of Castilleja levisecta, an endangered species listed under Schedule 1. The project involves seed collection at the donor site, propagation, establishing and treating experimental plots at translocation sites, monitoring, and possible exotic plant control. Seed collection is the only activity requiring a permit. This project is specifically designed to enhance the recovery of C. levisecta and to meet the recovery goals laid out in the Recovery Strategy for Multi-species at Risk in Maritime Meadows Associated with Garry Oak Ecosystems in Canada.
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