Today’s flower, a mountain penstemon,  Penstemon heterophyllus × laetus ‘Margarita BOP’ (according to the source, Altman Plants in Vista CA, BOP signifies that it was discovered at the Bottom of the Porch). Beautiful, and drought tolerant too. A somewhat different P. heterophyllus:


A linguistic bonus: the family to which the genus Penstemon belongs.

There are an extraordinary number of species in the genus. Examples of two more:


Penstemon palmeri in Red Rock Canyon NV


Penstemon hartwegii ‘Tubular Bells’ (wine red with white throat)

From Wikipedia:

Penstemon … the beardtongues, is a large genus of North American and East Asian flowering plants formerly placed in the Scrophulariaceae family … Due to new genetic research, it has now been placed in the vastly expanded family Plantaginaceae.

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.

The current family, from Wikipedia:

Plantaginaceae, the plantain family, is a family of flowering plants in the order Lamiales. The type genus is Plantago L.. [the common plantain, a widespread roadside weed]

… phylogenetic research has indicated that Plantaginaceae s.s. (s.s. = sensu stricto, in the strict sense) were nested within Scrophulariaceae (but forming a group that did not include the type genus of that family, Scrophularia).

… Plantaginaceae s.l. (s.l. = sensu lato, in the broad sense) are a diverse, cosmopolitan family, occurring mostly in temperate zones. The group consists of herbs, shrubs and also a few aquatic plants with roots

Plantago major, the broadleaf plantain:


The former family, Scrophulariaceae, still includes some medicinal plants, among them: Leptandra, black root, Culver’s root; Scrophularia, figworts; and Verbascum, mulleins. Plus Buddleja/Buddleia, butterfly-bush.

The name Scrophularia comes from scrofula, a form of tuberculosis affecting the lymph nodes in the neck, because several species have been used to treat this disease: the plant was thought, by the doctrine of signatures, to be able to cure the throat disease because of the throat-like shape of its flowers.

Scrophularia nodosa, common figwort (a weed growing in moist and cultivated waste ground):


Among the genera moved to the plantain family, besides Penstemon, are Antirrhinum, snapdragons; Digitalis, foxgloves; and Linaria, toadflaxes.

One Response to “Penstemon”

  1. Lee Sebastiani Says:


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