Smithsonian Misc. Collect. 50: 201. 1907.
Herbs, perennial, 1.9–6.2 dm; from a remote woody caudex; with a taproot. Stems solitary, sometimes few, proximally creeping, becoming rhizomatous, distally ascending to erect, unbranched or branched, glabrous proximally, glabrate distally, hairs ascending, medium length, soft, eglandular. Leaves widely spaced on stem, green, linear to lanceolate or narrowly oblong, 1.3–7.2 cm, not fleshy, margins plane, ± revolute, 0-lobed, apex broadly acute to acuminate, distalmost sometimes obtuse. Inflorescences 2–13.5 × 1.5–4.5 cm; bracts proximally greenish, rarely pink, distally pink, magenta, or purple, sometimes distally buff, dull yellow, cream, or light yellow-orange, ovate to elliptic or lanceolate, 0–5-lobed, sometimes also with 3 small teeth on center lobe; lobes ascending or ± spreading, narrowly lanceolate to oblong, medium length, arising near or above mid length, apex acuminate to acute, sometimes obtuse. Calyces whitish, green, or pink, pale colored ones tending to age pink, lobes as in bracts, 9–17 mm; abaxial and adaxial clefts 4.5–8 mm, 50% of calyx length, deeper than laterals, lateral 2–3 mm, 17–22% of calyx length; lobes linear to oblanceolate, apex acute. Corollas straight, 15–25 mm; tube 7–12 mm; beak and abaxial lip exserted above calyx lobes or ± pendently exserted from abaxial calyx cleft; beak adaxially green to yellowish, 6–11 mm; abaxial lip white to green, reduced, inconspicuous, pouches 3, small, 0.5–1.5 mm, 10–15% as long as beak; teeth ascending, white to deep green, 0.5–1 mm. 2n = 24.
Phenology: Flowering May–Aug.
Habitat: Serpentine bogs and wetlands.
Elevation: 50–1900 m.
Castilleja elata is endemic to the Siskiyou Mountains of northwestern California and adjacent Oregon. Although often treated as a subspecies of C. miniata, it differs from that species in its shorter corolla beaks and distinctive bimodal coloration, with some populations exclusively pale yellow to pale orange and others pink-purple to magenta, as well as its specialized habitat in serpentine wetlands, where it often grows alongside Darlingtonia californica. Castilleja miniata grows on more mesic to moderately xeric substrates in the general vicinity of C. elata but with no sign of intergradation between the two species. The origin and significance of the two discrete color forms of C. elata deserve further study.