Family: Scrophulariaceae - Figwort Family
Perennial herbs; 3.15” to 2.3' (0.8 to 7 dm) tall
Leaves: opposite and basal; simple; basal leaves 0.8” to 4” (2 to 10 cm) long, 1.6” to 8.8” (4 to 22 cm) wide; upper leaves 0.4” to 3.2” (1 to 8 cm) long, 0.08” to 0.8” (2 to 20 mm) wide
Flowers: 5 united red or deep pink lobed tubular petals (irregular flowers with upper lip 2 lobed, lower lip 3 lobed) with lobes spreading flat at the opening; 5 sepals; often with showy flowers; bilaterally symmetrical; usually bisexual; 4 fertile stamens, a fifth stamen is sterile; flowers 0.64” to 1” (16 to 25 mm) long
Pollinators: hummingbirds; other genera in this family are pollinated by insects (specifically bees, flies, moths and butterflies)
Fruits: 2 chambered capsule (dry fruit)
Blooms in Arches National Park: April, May, June
Habitat in Arches National Park: desert shrub and pinyon-juniper communities
Location seen: park road mile 11 to12, Delicate Arch Viewpoint trail, Fiery Furnace
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, “utahensis”, means “of or from Utah” referring to the origin of the type specimen which was found near Monticello, Utah.
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?
Pinyon trees do not produce pine nuts every year. These delicious nuts can only be harvested every three to seven years. This irregular schedule prevents animals from adapting to an abundance of pine nuts and guarantees that at least some nuts will become new trees instead of a quick meal.