Castilleja densiflora var. densiflora
Herbs 0.9–4.7 dm. Stems: hairs spreading, long, soft or proximal ones stiff. Leaves linear to broadly lanceolate or ovate, 1.5–8 cm, 0–5-lobed. Inflorescences 2.5–16(–20) cm; bracts distally pink to pink-purple or reddish purple on apices, sometimes white distally, if white sometimes aging pink. Calyces 8–20 mm; abaxial and adaxial clefts 6.5–15 mm, 75% of calyx length, often deeper than laterals, lateral 6.5–8 mm, 40–60% of calyx length. Corollas 18–29 mm; beak adaxially pink or purple; abaxial lip proximally white, yellow, or purple, often with purple spot in each crease, pouches widened gradually, appearing slightly inflated, longer than deep, 3–7 mm.
Phenology: Flowering Mar–May.
Habitat: Grasslands, forest openings, meadows, roadsides, sometimes on serpentine.
Elevation: 0–2100 m.
Variety densiflora usually has a pink to purple inflorescence, although rare individuals in a population may be white; in the San Francisco Bay region, purely white-bracted populations are interspersed among typical populations with pink-purple bracts. This variety differs from the other two varieties in the structure of the abaxial lip of the corolla. In addition, it is distinguished from var. gracilis by a less exserted corolla within a slightly longer calyx and subtending bracts. Within the range of the species, var. densiflora extends a little farther north, and var. gracilis is more common to the south. Confusing intermediates are occasionally found, suggesting possible hybridization with either Castilleja ambigua var. ambigua or C. attenuata. A peculiar form from Inverness, Marin County, was named Orthocarpus noctuinus Eastwood and treated later by some as a hybrid with C. rubicundula var. lithospermoides.