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Common name: Taper-leaf Penstemon
Scientific name: Penstemon attenuatus
Duration: Perennial
Family: Plantain family (Plantaginaceae)
Habitat: Prefers well-drained loamy to sandy soils in full sun. Heavy clay soils can be amended by adding peat moss and sand.
Blooming period: Early to midsummer
Color: Purple to blue flowers with shiny green foliage
Height: 1-2'
Planting Time: Fall/Winter; 90-day stratification required

Pronunciation: Penstemon attenuates (PEN-ste-mon at-ten-yoo-AY-tus)

Other common names: sulfur penstemon

Forage Value: Taper-leaf penstemon provides for pollen and nectar for a variety of bees, both bumble and honeybees, butterflies and moths.

Miscellany: Penstemon is a large genus with over 275 species scattered from Mexico to Canada. The common name for the genus is beardtongue which comes from the 1 non-fertile stamen present in Penstemon flowers. This is called the staminode and is usually hairy or looks "bearded." The other four stamens are fertile.

This is a great plant for a native bee garden: hardy and attractive!

Penstemon in Greek pente means "five" and stemon means "stamen." This probably refers to the fifth stamen which is the staminode (sterile stamen) or to the fact that there are five stamens total.
Attenuates means "narrowed to a point," which most likely refers to the leaves.

Further Resources: USDA Plant Guide for Taper-leaf penstemon

Photo credit: (top left) J.W. Jensen; (middle) B. Snyder; (right) J.W. Jensen

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