Bot. Gaz. 48: 146. 1909.
Herbs, perennial, (0.5–)1–2(–5) dm; from a woody caudex; with a taproot. Stems few to many, erect or ascending, often decumbent at base, unbranched, sometimes branched, hairs spreading, long, soft, mixed with dense, shorter stipitate-glandular ones. Leaves green or purple-tinged, sometimes deep purple, broadly lanceolate, sometimes linear-lanceolate or narrowly oblong, 1.5–4.8 cm, not fleshy, margins plane, flat or involute, 0–3-lobed, apex acute; lobes ascending or spreading, linear to narrowly linear or narrowly lanceolate, short, apex acuminate. Inflorescences 3–17 × 1–3 cm; bracts greenish or pale yellow-green throughout, or proximally greenish or pale yellow-green, distally pale yellow to whitish, sometimes pink-purple, or pale, dull purplish, sometimes aging pink or yellow, often infused with light purple, rarely pink, ovate to broadly acute, (0–)3-lobed; lobes ascending, linear-lanceolate, oblong, or triangular, short, arising below mid length, apex acute to obtuse. Calyces proximally green, pale with green veins, purple-tinged green, or purple, distally pale yellow, white, or purplish, 12–20 mm; abaxial and adaxial clefts 8–12 mm, 50% of calyx length, deeper than laterals, lateral 0.5–3 mm, 5–15% of calyx length; lobes short-triangular, apex obtuse, rounded, or truncate. Corollas straight, (16–)20–25 mm; tube 15–18 mm; beak slightly exserted, adaxially green to yellow, 5.5–8.5 mm; abaxial lip white, green and white, pink, or purple, ± prominent, appressed (proximally scarcely or not pouched), 3–5 mm, 67% as long as beak; teeth erect, white or pink with some purple or red, 1.5–2.5 mm.
Phenology: Flowering May–Oct.
Habitat: Flat, mesic meadows, dry talus and ridges, montane to alpine.
Elevation: 1100–2800 m.
Castilleja chrysantha is endemic to the mountains of northeastern Oregon, and its patterns of variation need further study. Most plants in the Blue Mountains are taller, more erect, and tolerate lower elevation habitats than populations around the type locality in the Wallowa Mountains. Plants with purplish inflorescences and longer hairs were described as C. ownbeyana and tend to favor drier talus and ridges than plants like the type, found in flat, mesic, montane to subalpine meadows. Hybrids between C. chrysantha and C. fraterna occur in Wallowa County. In the Wallowa Mountains, a recurrent and variable hybrid form between C. chrysantha and C. rhexiifolia was described as C. wallowensis Pennell.