Penstemon ID - received as P. breviculus

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Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14
Penstemon ID - received as P. breviculus

I've been growing this little linear-leaf Penstemon for a few years in a trough, purchased from a New England grower of rock plants. It's not very showy, a few stems with a few tubby violet flowers at a time, never many flowers at once but stretched out over a few weeks. The stems reach about 8" tall. The plant does not match photos I've seen on the USDA site, which I include links for comparison... the leaves on my plant much too narrow compared to USDA photos (see below), and as well, the USDA photos shows flowers spaced much more densely along the stem in congested manner. Any have an idea about what Penstemon species is living in my trough?

Penstemon breviculus
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=PEBR9
http://plants.usda.gov/java/largeImage?imageID=pebr9_005_avp.jpg
http://plants.usda.gov/java/largeImage?imageID=pebr9_003_avp.jpg

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Hello Penstemaniacs,

I received a personal email from Bob Nold, suggesting that my Penstemon may be P. ophianthus. There isn't much out there on the web for photos of P. ophianthus, but what I did find suggests, as one would expect, that Bob is right on track here, and my plant fits the descriptions, certainly as described in his book "Penstemons".  Apparently the species P. ophianthus is closekly related to P. jamesii, even once considered a subspecies of it (Penstemon jamesii Benth. ssp. ophianthus (Pennell) D.D. Keck), and the unique flower shape of P. jamesii shown in Bob's book looks very similar to my plant.  Bob writes about P. ophianthus in his book "A less showy [than P. jamesii] plant in the garden, because of the smaller, lavender-blue or pink flowers, but still worth growing".  Thanks Bob!

Bob found this thread, but has not yet activated his NARGS Forum login; let us hope that he does join up and participate in the forum, we could all benefit from his insight and experience, particularly when it comes to Penstemon.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Weiser
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-04

Mark
I grew a P. jamsii for several years but it met it's maker. Thank you for showing P. ophianthus. I like your photos of it. 

From the High Desert Steppe
of the Great Basin and the Eastern
Escarpment of the Sierra Nevada Range
Located in Reno/Sparks,NV  zone 6-7
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sierrarainshadow/
John P Weiser

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Weiser wrote:

Mark
I grew a P. jamsii for several years but it met it's maker. Thank you for showing P. ophianthus. I like your photos of it. 

Now I'm waiting for the seed pods, of course it'll be much later in the summer before they're ready.  Then surprisingly, one of the spent stems lengthened and produced a couple more late flowers. 

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

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