[Beardtongues and Penstemons: The Genus Penstemon East of the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and Washington]

Pincushion Beardtongue, Small Penstemon, Small-flowered Penstemon

Penstemon procerus var. procerus

Synonyms: Penstemon confertus ssp. procerus, Penstemon confertus var. procerus

Pincushion Beardtongue, Small Penstemon: Penstemon procerus var. procerus (Synonyms: Penstemon confertus ssp. procerus, Penstemon confertus var. procerus)

Small-flowered penstemon (var. procerus) from Hot Springs C. G., Hart Mt. National Antelope Refuge....July 6, 1996.

Pincushion Beardtongue, Small Penstemon: Penstemon procerus var. procerus (Synonyms: Penstemon confertus ssp. procerus, Penstemon confertus var. procerus)The photo at right shows the inflorescence of small-flowered penstemon (var. procerus) as seen near the Grande Ronde River along FS Rd #51, Wallowa-Whitman N.F..........June 24, 1998.
Characteristics:

Small-flowered penstemon is also known as Alpine Penstemon. It is an attractive perennial wildflower with one to several erect stems arising 5-40 cm from a tuft or mat of short leafy stems at the base. The basal leaves are 1-6 cm long on short petioles with entire margins. The leaf surface is glabrous. The stem leaves are reduce in size upwards on the stem. These are mostly lanceolate in shape with sessile or clasping bases.

The inflorescence consists of one to several dense verticillasters which are glabrous. The sepals are elliptic to ovate in shape and measure from 1.5- 6 mm long. They are glabrous to slightly pubescent. The corollas are tubular with the lobes spreading at the tip. The corollas usually range from 6-11 mm long and are generally thin and not much expanded in cross-section. The corolla usually ranges from blue and purple in color to creamy with a lighter throat. The outer surface of the corolla is glabrous while the palate is lightly bearded.

The glabrous anther sacs split completely. The staminode is lightly bearded (sometimes glabrous in var. formosus).

Rydberg's Penstemon is a similar wildflower which could be confused for Small-flowered Penstemon. The former species tends to have a larger stature (20-70 cm high), longer leaves (3-12 cm long), and larger corolla (11-15 mm long).


Varieties of Small-flowered Penstemon:

Variety brachyanthus: Plants from 15-30 cm high with 2-4 verticillasters in the inflorescence. Calyx 1.5-3 mm long , the sepals with a long, thin tip. Plants of the Oregon Cascades and Sierra Nevada of California.

Variety formosus: Plants small, ranging from 5-15 cm high with 1 dense thryse or occasionally with 1-2 vertillicasters in the inflorescence. Calyx 1.5-3 mm long, the individual sepals with a short, sharp tip. Plants of high altitude in the Wallowa and Blue Mts. of northeastern Oregon, or the Klamath region of Oregon and California.

Variety procerus: Plants from 15-30 cm high with 2-4 verticillasters in the inflorescence. Calyx 3-6 mm, individual sepals with a short, sharp tip. Plants found east of the Cascades of Washington and Oregon east to the Rocky Mts.

Variety tolmiei: Plants small, ranging from 5-15 cm high with 1 dense thryse or occasionally with 1-2 verticillasters in the inflorescence. Calyx 3-6 mm long, the individual sepals with a long, thin tip or with acute tips. Plants of the Olympic Mts. or Cascade Mts. of Washington and British Columbia.


Habitat:

Small-flowered penstemon may be found in dry meadows and on open to forested slopes in the foothills up to alpine habitats.


Range:

Small-flowered penstemon may be found from Alaska east to the Yukon and south to the Pacific Northwest, and east to western Montana, and the Rocky Mts. of Wyoming and Colorado.

Variety brachyanthus is found in the Oregon Cascades south to northern California and also in the Wallowa Mts. of northeastern Oregon.

Variety formosus is found high in the Wallowa and Blue Mts., atop the Steens Mt., and also in the Klamath region of Oregon south into Nevada and California.

Variety procerus is found from Alaska and the Yukon south through British Columbia to eastern Washington and eastern Oregon and east to the Rocky Mts. of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado.

Variety tolmiei is found in the Olympic Mts. and Washington Cascades north into British Columbia.


Lower stem leaves of Pincushion Beardtongue, Small Penstemon: Penstemon procerus var. procerus (Synonyms: Penstemon confertus ssp. procerus, Penstemon confertus var. procerus)

The photo above shows the lower leaves of small-flowered penstemon (var. procerus) as seen near the Grande Ronde River along FS Rd #51, Wallowa-Whitman N.F..........June 24, 1998.

Paul Slichter