Penstemon secundiflorus

Submitted by Lori S. on Sun, 06/27/2010 - 22:12

This one is in bloom now. I keyed it out last year as Penstemon secundiflorus, I thought, based on what's visible in the attached photos (pardon the dirty fingers in the pix!) as well as:
- calyx glabrous, entire to slightly erose
- staminode exerted, expanded to 3mm at the tip, densely bearded to 1/2 its length, mainly on the edges, with long tangled yellow hairs
- anther sacs closed at tips and across connective, or so I thought; glabrous
- etc.

Does Penstemon secundiflorus seem correct? Thanks in advance for any insight.


Submitted by penstemon on Mon, 06/28/2010 - 15:36

Looks like it to me. My mind isn't what it used to be, but I seem to recall only three species in Section Coerulei that have secund infloresences; P. secundiflorus, P. versicolor, and P. lentus. Lentus is taller with basal leaves about twice as large as those of secundiflorus (I can't find my rule to measure my plant that's not in flower.....), with a less secund inflorescence, and it falls over when it flowers (I would too, in this heat). Versicolor is blue and has obovate basal leaves.

Submitted by Kelaidis on Mon, 06/28/2010 - 18:33

Bob gave you the straight scoop: I'll give you the shmarmy marmy...

It must be secundiflorus cause it Shore Looks like it! This is one of the commonest and most widespread penstemons in the Colorado front ranges near Denver. The flowers are usually that lilacy pink, but they can be a quite piercing pink at times, and of course random whites. The typical plant can get to be almost a meter tall, although usually half that or a tad more. There are dwarf races in South Park under a foot tall.

This is ending its show about now in our foothills. It often grows with P. virens and the two make a wonderful pink and blue complementery ballet beneath the Ponderosas...aaaah spring!

Submitted by penstemon on Mon, 06/28/2010 - 18:55

Pennell called the dwarf South Park populations subspecies lavendulus. Quite a few of his names were wiped out by lumpers. Bill Jennings of the Colorado Native Plant Society pointed out to me years ago that botanists tend to split close to home, and lump as they get farther from their home territory. Keck, writing from California, lumped most of Pennell's names, but Weber, Barrell (in Flora of the Gunnison Basin), and others have resurrected a number of Pennell's original names.
I can walk to colonies of P. secundiflorus on top of one of the outwash mesa that surround our neighborhood. The plants are repeatedly driven over by dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles and are as a result pretty small. 

Submitted by Weintraub on Tue, 06/29/2010 - 07:20

Looks correct to me, too. P. secundiflorus grows all over Santa Fe (the parts that aren't developed) and the plateaus up to Los Alamos. In both locations, it blends into the ranges of other penstemons, most notably P. jamesii, P. barbatus, P. virgatus. In the days when I wandered those plateaus and hillsides, I found some wonderful color variation, including a beautiful mauve population that was wiped out when the highway was widened.