Mem. New York Bot. Gard. 1: 355. 1900.
Herbs, perennial, 1–5 dm; from a woody caudex; with a taproot. Stems few to several, erect or ascending, unbranched or branched, sometimes with short, leafy axillary shoots, hairy, sometimes glabrate proximally, hairs spreading to retrorse, medium length to long, soft, eglandular, often mixed distally with shorter stipitate-glandular ones. Leaves green, linear to narrowly lanceolate, 2–8 cm, not fleshy, margins plane, involute, 0–5-lobed, apex acute; lateral lobes spreading, linear, apex acuminate. Inflorescences 3–6(–11) × 1.5–6.5 cm; bracts proximally greenish, distally red, red-orange, or orange, sometimes yellow or dull salmon, narrowly to broadly lanceolate or oblong, 3–5-lobed; lobes ascending-spreading, linear-lanceolate, long, arising below mid length, central lobe apex rounded to obtuse, lateral ones acute. Calyces colored as bracts, (20–)25–35 mm; abaxial and adaxial clefts (6–)10–17 mm, 50% of calyx length, deeper than laterals, lateral (1–)3–6(–10) mm, 35% of calyx length; lobes slender, triangular, apex acute. Corollas straight, (25–)30–40(–45) mm; tube 15–20 mm; abaxial lip visible through front cleft, beak long-exserted from calyx; beak adaxially green or yellow-green, 16–21 mm; abaxial lip proximally white or yellow-green, distally green, reduced, usually visible in front cleft, 3 mm, 20% as long as beak; teeth incurved to ascending, green, 1 mm. 2n = 96.
Phenology: Flowering Jun–Aug.
Habitat: Rocky slopes, talus, ridges, dry to moist, open, conifer forests, montane meadows.
Elevation: 1500–2900 m.
Idaho, Mont., Wyo.
Castilleja crista-galli is found in the Rocky Mountains of southwestern Montana and northwestern Wyoming. The extent of its distribution into adjacent Idaho is unresolved, in part because it is frequently confused with either C. linariifolia or C. miniata. Castilleja crista-galli appears to be morphologically intermediate between them, leading to speculation that it might be an allopolyploid derivative. A DNA study (S. Matthews and M. Lavin 1998) showed little support for a hybrid origin. Castilleja crista-galli may be separated with some difficulty from the other two species by the presence of at least some short hairs on the stems and the frequently three- to five-parted leaves. Castilleja linariifolia and C. miniata both usually have subglabrous stems and entire leaves, sometimes three-parted distally, near the inflorescence.