Proc. Calif. Acad. Sci., ser. 3, 2: 289. 1902. (as Castilleia)
Herbs, perennial, 0.4–1.7 dm; from a woody caudex; with a taproot. Stems few to several, ascending to decumbent-based, unbranched, hairs spreading, long, soft to stiff, mixed with shorter stipitate-glandular ones. Leaves green to deep purple, linear to narrowly lanceolate, (0.5–)1–2.5(–3.1) cm, not fleshy, margins plane, flat to slightly involute, 3(–7)-lobed, apex acuminate; lobes ascending-erect, linear to filiform, apex acute to obtuse. Inflorescences 15–20 × 1.5–3 cm; bracts greenish or deep purplish throughout, or proximally greenish or deep purplish, distally white, pink, magenta, reddish purple, purple, or pale yellow, distal coloration often limited to apices and margins, broadly lanceolate or narrowly to broadly elliptic, 0–3(–7)-lobed; lobes spreading, linear to narrowly oblanceolate, long, arising near mid length, apex acute or obtuse. Calyces green to purple, margins green, white, or pink, 10–19 mm; abaxial, adaxial, and lateral clefts 3.5–7(–10) mm, 33–55% of calyx length, all 4 clefts subequal; lobes linear, lanceolate-elliptic, or narrowly triangular, apex acute to rounded. Corollas straight, 10–16(–19) mm; tube 8–13 mm, with patches of blackish coloration on either side of distal portion; beak subequal to calyx or exserted, adaxially green, yellow, whitish, or pink, 3–5.5 mm, scarcely exceeding abaxial lip, margins brown or burgundy, sometimes pink; abaxial lip pale yellow, white, green, or purple, inflated, pouched, 2–5 mm, 65–95% as long as beak; teeth erect to slightly spreading, white, yellow, or pink, 0.5–2.1 mm. Stigmas black. 2n = 24.
Phenology: Flowering Jun–Aug.
Habitat: Rocky or gravelly slopes, talus, ridges, fellfields, subalpine and alpine, often over granite.
Elevation: 1900–4300 m.
Calif., Nev., Utah.
Castilleja nana is limited to high elevations in the Sierra Nevada of California and the Great Basin ranges in central Nevada and western Utah. Plants with pink to purple inflorescences were described as C. lapidicola. Localized hybrid swarms between C. nana and C. viscidula are known from several mountain ranges in central and northern Nevada. Castilleja nana is sometimes confused with higher elevation forms of C. pilosa but can usually be distinguished from that species by the blackish patches on the sides of the corolla tube. Divergent populations in the central Sierra Nevada and adjacent White Mountains deserve further study.