Lilac-flowered BeardtonguePenstemon gracilis Nutt.
This slender perennial plant has purple tube-shaped flowers with a lower lip that acts as a landing platform for visiting insects. Each flower also has a distinctively hairy, orange sterile stamen that sticks out like a tongue, giving the plant its common name. They attract pollinators such as hummingbirds and long-tongued bees. Plants have been used by Indigenous people for medicinal purposes.
Canadian Rarity Status:
Not rare. Listed as “sensitive” in Alberta and “may be at risk” in British Columbia.
Unbranched stems grow 15-60 cm tall. Stalked basal and lower leaves are lance to oval-shaped with toothed edges, that die back early. Opposite unstalked stem leaves are linear to lance-shaped. Tubular, hairy flowers occur in whorls arranged into a loose, slender spike. Each one consists of an upper 2-lobed lip, a lower 3-lobed lip, four fertile stamens, and an orange, hairy, sterile stamen. Fruits are capsules containing numerous seeds.
Slender Beardtongue (Penstemon procerus Dougl. ex Graham), White Beardtongue (Penstemon albidus Nutt.)
Seeds and/or plants may be available from greenhouses and seed supply companies specializing in native plants. They are a good addition to bird gardens, and can be propagated by seed or cuttings.
- British Columbia
- Fescue Prairie
- Mixed Grass Prairie
- Tall Grass Prairie
- Open Woodlands
- Full Sun
- Part Shade