Penstemon albidus

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Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27
Penstemon albidus

A long drive across the prairies last weekend was enlivened a bit for me as I stopped to look at some roadside plants... here is white beard-tongue, Penstemon albidus, a little colony in bloom, in west-central Saskatchewan.
The glandular nature (i.e. having glands that exude a sticky or oily substance) of the inflorescence is made clear by all the tiny bugs and little bits of what-not stuck to it, visible in some of the photos!

1 - 3) Overall plant
4) Basal rosette showing oblong to spatulate, petioled lower leaves (re. Moss & Packer, Flora of Alberta)
5) Flower close-up
6) Part of the grove, growing in a rather sandy area.

Here is the range map from the USDA Plants site. (Bear in mind that this site uses political boundaries, rather than actual ranges that would be based on observation and might be linked to specific habitats or climatic zones. In other words, if the plant occurs anywhere in Alberta or any state, it will be shown as though it occurs everywhere within Alberta or within that particular state, which may not be the case. It is an excellent resource, nonetheless, though.)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/nameSearch?keywordquery=penstemon+albidus&mo...

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

Lori, thanks for sharing this one, a learning experience to be sure, and a most unusual and lovely Penstemon!  Do you know if anyone is cultivating this species?  The USDA range map is most unusual, I believe it is the first time I've seen a plant range that is quite "squarely down the middle of the North American continent".  This one looks small enough to grow in a trough.  Now Lori, we may be looking to you to introduce this fine native :D  Did you try cuttings?  That's what I would've tried, if there were any non-flowering side shoots, as you were obviously too early for seed.

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

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Thanks, Mark!
Well, I'm cultivating it, for one.  ;)  Or will be... I have a batch of seedlings, waiting to be planted out, if the rain ever lets up.  
I got seeds from the last NARGS seedex (hope that they are true!), and I see that it's also offered by Alplains, from seeds collected in Colorado.  
http://www.alplains.com/

I think I have been beaten to the punch long ago re. introducing it!  ;D  No, taking cuttings never even occurred to me...

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

Skulski wrote:

Thanks, Mark!
Well, I'm cultivating it, for one.  ;)  Or will be... I have a batch of seedlings, waiting to be planted out, if the rain ever lets up.  
I got seeds from the last NARGS seedex (hope that they are true!), and I see that it's also offered by Alplains, from seeds collected in Colorado.  
http://www.alplains.com/

Please, can't you send me some rain?! Here it is less rain than usual and the farmers are getting worried. No precipitation for the next 10 days either. I have to water my plants every other day. Lots of sun but rather cold air.

Penstemon is a very exciting genus. I have grown several species but it is many more to try!

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

If only it was possible, Trond!  Well, it is usually rainy in June here, and it is fine in our yard, as it drains well.  (I'm getting anxious to get out in the sun though!) 
However, there has been huge amounts of rain to the east on the prairies - big delays in seeding of crops and flooding in some areas.

Yes, penstemons are fascinating!  Such a vast number of garden-worthy species to try! 

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

I don't know if it was you, Lori, but we got some raindrops last night and I don't need to water for the next couple of days! The bad thing is that it was accompanied with strong northerly wind that do some damage to the plants.

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Allison
Allison's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2010-04-08

What a wonderful find! Thank you for showing us!

Gardening on a wooded rocky ridge in the Ottawa Valley, Canada. Cold winters (-30C) and hot, humid summers. Nuts about native plants, ferns, pottery, my family, and Border Collies.

Weiser
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-04

I grew this plant many years ago in North Dakota. It is a nice short compact species. It is found growing on sandy loam soils in the short grass prairie settings. I always associate it with Blue gamma (Bouteloua gracilis) turf.

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

penstemon
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-06-24

Both P. albidus and P. ambiguus are lawn-mower-tolerant. (I don't know what this has to do with anything.) There used to be a beautiful albidus in the parking lot where I worked; it bloomed, was mowed down, and just came back the next year.
Strictus too, now that I think of it.

Bob

extreme western edge of Denver, Colorado; elevation 1705.6 meters, average annual precipitation 30cm; refuses to look at thermometer if it threatens to go below -17C

Weiser
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-04

Bob
I think they probably evolved this ability, as a survival strategy to compensate for the grazing pressures from the Bison herds on the Great Plains.

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

penstemon
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-06-24

I think probably not. The local name for penstemon among various tribes is "fire taste". Some penstemons are apparently edible, but the Range Plant Handbook says "an abundance of pentstemons may ...be an indication of past overgrazing."
Buffalo would probably have avoided sand hill country because there's almost nothing there to eat anyway. Except sand wiches.

Bob

extreme western edge of Denver, Colorado; elevation 1705.6 meters, average annual precipitation 30cm; refuses to look at thermometer if it threatens to go below -17C

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