The narrow leaves and stems of castilleja angustifolia
are green during moist periods but purplish when dry. Like most paintbrush species the most noticeable part of the flower head are the red bracts - modified leaves, with similar dimensions and characteristics to the leaves just below; the actual flowers are small, greenish-yellow, an inch long and tubular, projecting out just a little way at the top. Under optimum conditions the bracts are especially brilliant in color, seeming to glow from within. There are three varieties (var angustifolia, var flavescens and var dubia), of which the latter is most common, and also known as castilleja chromosa.