Bluestem Penstemon (Dusty Penstemon)
Family: Scrophulariaceae – Figwort Family
Perennial herbs; some parasitic or semi-parasitic; 7.87” to 1.5' (2 to 4.5 decimeters) tall
Leaves: opposite and basal; simple; leaf margins curled or wavy; 0.6” to 4.8” (1.5 to 12 cm) long; 0.08” to 1.2” (2 to 30 mm) wide
Flowers: 5 blue or lavender lobed united tubular petals (irregular flowers with upper lip 2 lobed, lower lip 3 lobed), 5 tubular sepals at least partially united; 4 fertile stamens, a fifth stamen is sterile; flowers 0.64” to 0.96” (16 to 24 mm) long
Pollinators: other genera in this family are pollinated by insects (specifically bees, flies, moths and butterflies) and hummingbirds
Fruits: 2 chambered capsule (dry fruit)
Blooms in Arches National Park: April, May, June
Habitat in Arches National Park: desert shrub and pinyon-juniper communites; mostly in sandy soil
Location seen: Windows primitive trail, park road in Salt Valley, outside Arches National Park above Ken's Lake
Other: The genus name, “Penstemon”, is from the Greek “pen” which means “almost” and "stemon" which means “thread” which refers to the stamens (only 4 of the 5 stamens produce pollen; the fifth stamen is sterile, so it is almost a stamen). The species name, “cyanocaulis”, is from the Greek “kyanos” which means “blue” and “caulis” which means “stem”.
The genus Penstemon is large and complex. The family is important because it has many ornamentals and cardiac glycosides can be derived from foxglove.
Did You Know?
Once feared of becoming extinct, desert bighorn sheep are making a tentative comeback in southeast Utah due to reintroduction efforts by the National Park Service. There are roughly 50 sheep in Arches, though their shy nature keeps them well-hidden from most visitors. More...