Family: Scrophulariaceae - Figwort Family
Perennial herbs; some parasitic or semi-parasitic; 9.84” to 3.3' (2.5 to 10 dm) tall
Leaves: opposite and basal; simple; entire or curled or wavy; lower leaves 1.2” to 7.6” (3 to 19 cm) long, 0.32” to 2.2” (8 to 55 mm) wide
Flowers: 5 united lobed tubular (irregular flowers with upper lip 2 lobed, lower lip 3 lobed) red petals; 5 sepals; 4 fertile stamens, a fifth stamen is sterile; flowers hanging downwards; flowers 0.6” to 1.32” (15 to 33 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 0 to 2.5, Park Avenue, Delicate Arch 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, “eatonii”, honors David Cady Eaton (1834-1885), an American botanist.
The genus Penstemon is large and complex. The family is important because it has many ornamentals and cardiac glycosides can be derived from foxglove.