Family: Figwort (Scrophulariaceae)
a glandular-hairy herb with clustered stems arising from woody root crowns. The stems are typically are 20 cm tall but may grow up to 40 cm. Bright blue flowers grow at the tips of the stems.Habit:
It grows throughout Canada and Alaska, in the US it grows throughout the country, particularly in Northwestern states such as Idaho and Montana. Locally it can be found around the base of Mt. Sentinel.
There are nearly 30 species of Penstemon in our area, and over 100 species in the Rocky Mountains. Alberta penstemon is glandular-hairy , with hairless anthers and flowers which distinguishes it from most of the other species. P. wilcoxii has larger leaves, generally 2.5cm or more wide, and taller (up to 1m tall) and extends into the edges of forests.
The genus name Penstemon was originally written Pentstemon, meaning 5 stamens. Having five stamens, one of which is infertile, is characteristic of this genus of plants. The former scientific name of this species was Penstemon caelestinus. Several species of penstemon are edible to wildlife and domestic sheep. Ground squirrels often eat their seeds. Penstemons are popular garden flowers. They are easy to start from seeds. The native penstemons are good species to grow in waterwise gardens.
funnel-shaped and about 15-20 mm long, they are bright blue with pale throats. The upper lip of the flower has two lobes and the lower lip has 3 lobes which are white or yellow and hairy. The flowers grow in whorls from the axils of the upper leaves, and exist on 5-15 mm long stalks. There are five stamens, one of which is infertile.
bright green, thick, and opposite, about 2-5 cm long. Near the base the leaves are stalked, the farther up the stem they grow, the narrower they become and the stalks disappear. The leaves may have some small, irregular teeth. In the fall and winter leaves are often a deep red or purple underneath. This apparently gives them some protection against cold temperatures in the winter.
dry open areas and rocky slopes and foothills.