[Beardtongues and Penstemons: The Genus Penstemon East of the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and Washington]
Sticky-stem penstemon is a large, beautiful penstemon. It has one to several upright stems which may attain a height of 100 cm. It is large flowered, and very glandular, being sticky to the touch. The basal leaves are large (10-35 cm long) and elliptical to lanceolate. The petioles typically make up one-half the length. The margins are entire in var. chelanensis and serrate in var. glandulosus. The stem leaves of both varieties are smaller, sessile or clasping, and lanceolate to broadly ovate.
The inflorescence is widely spaced, with two to six clusters of large violet to blue-lavender flowers. The corolla, like the herbage, is very glandular. The tube ranges in length from 25 to 45 mm, and expands from base to mouth, the mouth roughly 1.1-15. cm wide. The mouth is strongly two-lipped with the non-bearded, slightly expanded (at the tip) staminode barely reaching the throat. The anther sacs are wider than long, splitting across the connective and remaining sac-like at the ends. Distinct teeth are visible along the sutures.
Variety chelanensis: Basal leaves with entire margins.
Variety glandulosus: Basal leaves with serrate margins.
Sticky-stem penstemon lives from prairie to rocky hillsides to open timber in the foothills.
Variety glandulosus is found in the Blue and Wallowa Mts. of southeast Washington and northeast Oregon. It is likewise found in the Snake River canyon of western Idaho.
Variety chelanensis is found along the east base of the Cascade Mts. from Lake Chelan south to the Columbia River gorge, which it crosses to be found in extreme northern Oregon near The Dalles and Hood River.