Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

Penstemons (Penstemon spp.) are perennial forbs, subshrubs to shrubs with attractive flowers. Common to the western United States. Except for one minor species, the genus Penstemon does not occur naturally outside of North America. They are short to long-lived. Penstemons have opposite, entire or toothed leaves. They have several stalked flowers or flower clusters that are borne in the axils of the upper leaves or leaflike bracts. The tubular flower is strongly to distinctly two-lipped at the mouth with a two-lobed upper lip and a three-lobbed lower lip. There are 4 fertile stamens and a single sterile stamen that is often hairy at the tip. The fruit is a many-seeded capsule.

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Alternative names

beardtongue

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Distribution

Distribution and adaptation

Penstemons do best on well-drained soils. Most ecotypes do well on infertile, disturbed soils. They have excellent cold winter and drought tolerance. They will tolerate weakly saline to weakly acidic sites. They are usually found in open areas, but will tolerate semi-shaded conditions. They are somewhat fire-resistant due to leaves staying green with relatively high moisture content during the fire season.

Penstemon is distributed throughout the entire United States. For a current distribution map, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Website.

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Ecology

Dispersal

Establishment

These species should be seeded with a drill or broadcast at a depth of 1/4 inch or less into a firm seedbed. Ideal seeding depth is 1/8 inch. Penstemons are not recommended for single species seeding. The full seeding rate (not recommended) for these forbs-shrubs is 1.5 to 3 pounds Pure Live Seed (PLS) per acre or 20 to 26 PLS per square foot (varies somewhat by species). When used as a component of a mix, adjust to percent of mix desired. For mined lands and other harsh critical areas, doubling the seeding rate component of penstemon is not required. The best seeding results are obtained from seeding in very early spring (because of grass component of mix) on heavy to medium textured soils and in late fall on medium to light textured soils. Late summer (August - mid September) seeding is not recommended. Dormant fall seedings (preferred seeding period for penstemons) will pre-chill seed and reduce seed dormancy which is very strong in some species. Mulching, irrigation and weed control all benefit stand establishment. Seedling vigor is good, but not as good as most grasses. Germination may not occur until the second growing season. Flowering should not be expected until at least the second growing season.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
                                        
Specimen Records:49Public Records:5
Specimens with Sequences:44Public Species:5
Specimens with Barcodes:43Public BINs:0
Species:27         
Species With Barcodes:24         
          
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Barcode data

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Locations of barcode samples

Collection Sites: world map showing specimen collection locations for Penstemon

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Conservation

Conservation Status

Status

Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values).

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Threats

Pests and potential problems

Stands may require weed control measures during establishment. Because penstemons are broad-leaved, use of 2,4-D is not recommended. Mow weeds at or prior to their bloom stage. New stands may also be damaged by grasshoppers and other insects and pesticides may be needed.

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Management

Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

Alpine penstemon (P. venustus Dougl ex. Lindl.) is a selected class release from seed originally collected in

the Clearwater River drainage, Idaho; 'Bandera' (P. strictus Benth.) Rocky Mountain penstemon was developed from seed originally collected in Torrance County, New Mexico; 'Cedar' (P. palmeri Gray) Palmer penstemon was developed from seed originally collected near Cedar City in Iron County, Utah; Firecracker penstemon (P. eatonii Gray) is a selected release from seed originally collected near Richfield, Utah.

A number of other penstemons are seeded primarily for soil stabilization on depleted, disturbed and erosive areas for erosion control and as ornamentals. These include low penstemon (P. humilis Nutt. ex Gray), Rydberg penstemon (P. rydbergii A. Nels.), and thinleaf penstemon (P. pachyphyllus Gray ex Rydb.). No releases have been made.

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Environmental concerns

Penstemon species establish and spread slowly via seed distribution. They are not considered "weedy" or invasive species, but can spread into adjoining vegetative communities under ideal climatic and environmental conditions. They coexist with other native species and add biodiversity to those plant communities.

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Growth of penstemons begins in early spring and flowers appear in May through July depending on species. Weed control and removal of very competitive species may improve chance of establishment. Damage from wildlife and rodents may occur and they may need to be controlled. Disease problems are minimal except under irrigation. Under irrigation, fusarium wilt can be a problem.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Uses

Grazing/rangeland: 'Cedar' and 'Bandera' are the only released penstemons noted to have any forage value. 'Cedar' leaves stay green throughout the growing season providing some forage value. All other varieties are considered fair to poor palatability and considered to be only incidental forage value. All species provide diversity to the seeded plant community.

Erosion control/reclamation: All species are mentioned for their value in mixes for erosion control and beautification values.

Wildlife: Penstemons are considered desirable forages for deer, antelope and birds either as herbage or seed. They may also provide some cover for selected small bird species. They provide diversity to the plant community.

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Wikipedia

Penstemon

Penstemon /ˈpɛnstɨmən/,[1] the beardtongues, is a large genus of North American and East Asian flowering plants formerly placed in the Scrophulariaceae family (Cronquist system). Due to new genetic research, it has now been placed in the vastly expanded family Plantaginaceae.

A prominent, often hairy, staminode is the most distinctive feature of this genus, as in this Penstemon rupicola flower
Bellflower Beardtongue (Penstemon campanulatus)
Hairy Beardtongue (Penstemon hirsutus)
Pineneedle Beardtongue (Penstemon pinifolius)
Prairie-clover (Penstemon speciosus)

They have opposite leaves, partly tube-shaped, and two-lipped flowers and seed capsules. The most distinctive feature of the genus is the prominent staminode, an infertile stamen. The staminode takes a variety of forms in the different species; while typically a long straight filament extending to the mouth of the corolla, some are longer and extremely hairy, giving the general appearance of an open mouth with a fuzzy tongue protruding and inspiring the common name beardtongue.

Most penstemons are deciduous or semi-evergreen perennials, the remainder being shrubs or subshrubs. Heights can range from 10 cm to as much as 3 metres.

The one Asiatic species previously treated in Penstemon is now placed in a separate genus Pennellianthus. This leaves Penstemon a mostly nearctic genus, with a few neotropical species. Although widespread across North America, and found in habitats ranging from open desert to moist forests, and up to the alpine zone, they are not typically common within their range.

History[edit]

Native Americans long used penstemons as medicinal remedies for humans and animals.[2] John Mitchell published the first scientific description in 1748; although he only named it as Penstemon, we can identify it as P. laevigatus. Linnaeus then included it in his 1753 publication, as Chelone pentstemon, altering the spelling to better correspond to the notion that the name referred to the unusual fifth stamen (Greek "penta-", five). Mitchell's work was reprinted in 1769, continuing with his original spelling, and this was ultimately accepted as the official form, although Pentstemon continued in use into the 20th century.

Although several more species were found in the 18th century, they continued to be classified in Chelone until about the 1820s. The period of 1810 to 1850 increased the number of known species from 4 to 63, as expeditions traveled through Mexico and the western United States, followed by another 100 up to 1900.

During this time, seeds began to be offered for sale in Europe, the earliest known dating from 1813, with John Fraser offering four species in London, followed by Flanagan & Nutting offering nine species in their 1835 catalog. Subsequently many hybrids were developed in Europe.

Fieldwork in the remote parts of the Great Basin during the 20th century brought the total number of species known to over 250. The genus was extensively revised by David Keck between 1932 and 1957; in 1946 the American Penstemon Society was formed to promote both horticultural and botanical interest.

Horticulture[edit]

Although penstemons are among the most attractive native flowers of North America, Europe has always been far more active in their cultivation, and hundreds of hybrids have been developed there since the early 19th century. The earliest development is somewhat shrouded in mystery; for instance Flanagan & Nutting's 1835 catalog mentions a 'Penstemon Hybridum' but does not describe it.

By 1860, a half-dozen French growers are known to have developed hybrids, most notably Victor Lemoine, while in 1857 the German Wilhelm Pfitzer listed 24 varieties. In 1861 the Royal Horticultural Society held trials in which 78 varieties were entered. The Scottish firm of John Forbes first offered penstemons in 1870, eventually becoming the biggest grower in the world; in 1884 their catalog listed 180 varieties. By 1900 Forbes had offered 550 varieties, while Lemoine had developed nearly 470 by the time of his death in 1911. Few of these have survived to the present day.

A number of different species have been used in the hybridization process, notably P. cobaeus and P. hartwegii.

In North America, penstemons are often used in xeriscape landscaping, as many are native to desert or alpine regions and thus quite hardy. One of the largest collections of penstemons in North America is found at The Arboretum at Flagstaff, Arizona, which hosts a Penstemon Festival each summer.[3]

The following cultivars have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit:-

'Alice Hindley'[4]P. isophyllus[5]
'Andenken an Friedrich Hahn'[6]'Margery Fish'[7]
'Apple Blossom'[8]'Maurice Gibbs'[9]
'Beech Park'[10]'Osprey'[11]
'Cherry'[12]'Pennington Gem'[13]
'Chester Scarlet'[14]'Port Wine'[15]
'Connie's Pink'[16]'Roy Davidson'[17]
'Evelyn'[18]'Raven'[19]
'George Home'[20]'Rubicundus'[21]
P. hartwegii[22]'Schoenholzeri'[23]
'Catherine de la Mare'[24]'Sour Grapes'[25]
'Hewell Pink Bedder'[26]'Stapleford Gem'[27]
'Hidcote Pink'[28]'White Bedder'[29]

Others include 'Dark Towers', developed by Dale Lindgren at the University of Nebraska. [30]

Species[edit]

References[edit]

Notations[edit]

  • Way, D. and P. James. The Gardener's Guide to Growing Penstemons. David & Charles Publishers. 1998. ISBN 0-7153-0550-6

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  2. ^ Escamilla, G., et al. Penstemon ambiguus. Medicinal Plants of the Southwest. New Mexico State University. 2001. Updated 2008.
  3. ^ "Penstemon Festival". Thearb.org. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  4. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Penstemon 'Alice Hindley' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  5. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Penstemon isophyllus AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  6. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Penstemon 'Andenken an Friedrich Hahn' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  7. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Penstemon 'Margery Fish' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  8. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Penstemon 'Apple Blossom' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  9. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Penstemon 'Maurice Gibbs' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  10. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Penstemon 'Beech Park' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  11. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Penstemon 'Osprey' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  12. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Penstemon 'Cherry' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  13. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Penstemon 'Pennington Gem' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  14. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Penstemon 'Chester Scarlet' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  15. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Penstemon 'Port Wine' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  16. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Penstemon 'Connie's Pink' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  17. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Penstemon procerus 'Roy Davidson' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  18. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Penstemon 'Evelyn' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  19. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Penstemon 'Raven' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  20. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Penstemon 'George Home' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  21. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Penstemon 'Rubicundus' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  22. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Penstemon hartwegii AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  23. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Penstemon 'Schoenholzeri' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  24. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Penstemon heterophyllus 'Catherine de la Mare' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  25. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Penstemon 'Sour Grapes' M. Fish AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  26. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Penstemon 'Hewell Pink Bedder' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  27. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Penstemon 'Stapleford Gem' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  28. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Penstemon 'Hidcote Pink' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  29. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Penstemon 'White Bedder' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  30. ^ Walters Gardens. Penstemon 'Dark Towers' PP20013
  31. ^ Turner, B. L. (2010). Taxonomy of the Penstemon campanulatus complex (Scrophulariaceae) and description of a new species from its midst. Phytoneuron 31 1–5.
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