Penstemon albidus (White Beardtongue)
|Also known as:||White Penstemon|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; sandy or gravelly soil; dry prairies, hillsides|
|Bloom season:||May - June|
|Plant height:||6 to 20 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Whorl-like clusters of 2 or more trumpet-shaped flowers on a short stalk arising from leaf axils in the upper plant. Flowers are white, up to ¾ inch long, the lower lip with 3 downward pointing lobes of similar size and shape, the upper lip erect and lobed in 2 parts only slightly smaller than the lower lobes. All lobes may be a bit wavy around the edges. Inside the tube are several reddish or purplish lines that act as nectar guides, 4 black-tipped stamens hugging the upper part of the tube, and a creamy style.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are somewhat variable. Basal leaves are stalked, mostly toothless, hairless or somewhat hairy, narrowly spatula shaped to oblong, to 2½ inches long and ¼ to ½ inch wide, with a blunt or rounded tip. Leaves become stalkless and more lance-like up the stem, pointed at the tip and often with small teeth around the edges, oppositely attached. Stems are glandular-hairy near the flowers and more softly hairy near the base. A plant typically has 2 to 5 stems arising from the base.
The flowers of White Penstemon are similar to Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis) but the latter has much longer flower stalks arising from the leaf axils and is generally a larger plant, reaching heights of up to 5 feet. All Penstemon species were formerly in the Scrophulariaceae (Figwort) family, but are now in Plantaginaceae (Plantain).
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Photos by K. Chayka taken on a hillside along Hwy 7 in Ortonville, Big Stone County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Big Stone County, and in South Dakota.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?