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

Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon

Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus

Synonym: Penstemon attenuatus ssp. attenuatus

Calyx and corolla of Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus

The photo above shows a close-up of the corolla and calyx of sulphur penstemon (var. attenuatus) as seen at the Chief Joseph Viewpoint north of Enterprise, OR........June 27, 2007. Note the numerous glands covering the leaves and stem as well as the outside of the corolla. All photos on this page were taken at the same time and location.

Corolla of Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus The photo at right shows a close-up frontal view of the corolla of sulphur penstemon. Note the numerous glands on the front of each corolla lobe as well as the open, oval-shaped anther sacs extending out of the mouth of the flower.
Characteristics:

Penstemon attenuatus is a variable, wide-spread perennial found across much of the Pacific Northwest. This variety appears in both blue and yellow or yellowish-white-flowered forms. Plants are often tufted, from 30 to 90 cm tall and and somewhat glandular above to glabrous below, or occasionaly somewhat pubescent. The leaves are found both at the base and on the stems. The basal leaflets appear in a rosette, and consist of lanceolate to ovate leaves with short petioles. The margins are typically entire, but may also be finely toothed in this variety. The basal leaves may be either glabrous to finely pubescent, and are up to 17 cm long and 4 cm wide. The stem leaves are reduced in size, opposite, and bright green. These are usually sessile or without petioles, and some-what lanceolate in shape.

The inflorescence is glandular-hairy, and consists of several (3 to 7) loose to crowded verticillasters, each of which consists of several to many flowers. The calyx is 4 to 7 mm long, with entire, accuminate sepals. In this variety, the corollas are mostly 14 to 20 mm in length, and the corollas are distinctly flared outward at the mouth. The palate is bearded, as is the distal expanded tip of the staminode. The staminode reaches the opening of the tube. The flowers of this variety as mentioned above are both blue as well as yellow and yellow-white. The exterior surface of the corolla is glandular hairy. The anthers are glabrous or lightly pubescent, with the sacs dehiscing their full length, and upon opening, spreading opposite and boat-shaped.


Varieties Found in Oregon & Washington:

Variety attenuatus: The corolla generally measures greater than 12 mm long. Found in wet meadows, ponderosa pine woods, and on open slopes.

Variety palustris: The corolla measures 7-12 mm long. Found in wet meadows.


Habitat:

Sulpur Penstemon is found in dry to moist meadows or on open or wooded slopes in the foothills to moderate elevation in the mountains.


Range:

Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus is found from central Washington, from the Yakima River in the west and south of the Spokane River to east of the John Day River in Oregon, eastward across northern Idaho to western Montana (west of the continental divide).

Penstemon attenuatus var. palustris is found in the southern Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon. It is found in southern Morrow County, as well as Grant and Baker counties.


Blue-flowered form of Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus

The photo above shows the inflorescence of a blue-flowered taper tip penstemon (var. attenuatus) as seen along the Tucannon River Trail #3135, Umatilla N.F........June 23, 2007.

White-flowered form of Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus

Sulphur penstemon (var. attenuatus) from Chief Joseph Viewpoint north of Enterprise, OR........June 27, 2006.

Stem leaf of Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus

The photo above shows a leaf from the upper stem of sulphur penstemon.

Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus (Synonym: Penstemon attenuatus ssp. attenuatus) - Stem leaf of Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus (Synonym: Penstemon attenuatus ssp. attenuatus) - Sideview of a flower of Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus (Synonym: Penstemon attenuatus ssp. attenuatus) - Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus (Synonym: Penstemon attenuatus ssp. attenuatus)

Frontal view of a flower of Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus (Synonym: Penstemon attenuatus ssp. attenuatus) - Floral parts of Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus (Synonym: Penstemon attenuatus ssp. attenuatus) - Floral parts of Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus (Synonym: Penstemon attenuatus ssp. attenuatus)

Tapertip penstemon as seen at Camas Lands NAP to the southeast of Leavenworth, Washington..........June 5, 2015.

Inflorescence of Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus - White-flowered form of Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus


Close-up view of the mouth of the corolla of Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus - Dorsal view of corolla of Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus - Corolla of Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus - Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus

Sulphur penstemon as seen along the Umatilla Rim Trail #3080 near Tollgate, Umatilla N.F........June 24, 2007.

Blue-flowered form of Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus

The photo above shows taper-leaved penstemon (var. attenuatus) on rock outcrops high above the Imnaha River along the Buckhorn Lookout to Eureka Bar trail in the Wallowa-Whitman N.F........June 27, 2008.

Corolla of Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus - Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus - Frontal view of corolla (with anthers visible) Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus

Close-up views of sulpur penstemon as seen on Steptoe Butte in eastern Washington........June 22, 2009.

Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus (Synonym: Penstemon attenuatus ssp. attenuatus) - Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus (Synonym: Penstemon attenuatus ssp. attenuatus) - Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus (Synonym: Penstemon attenuatus ssp. attenuatus)

Taperleaved penstemon blooming atop Sourdough Ridge, Asotin Wildlife Area, Asotin County, WA........June 3, 2017.

Flower of Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus (Synonym: Penstemon attenuatus ssp. attenuatus) - Inflorescence of Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus (Synonym: Penstemon attenuatus ssp. attenuatus) - Inflorescence of Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus (Synonym: Penstemon attenuatus ssp. attenuatus)

Stem leaves of Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus (Synonym: Penstemon attenuatus ssp. attenuatus) -Inflorescence of Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus (Synonym: Penstemon attenuatus ssp. attenuatus) - Basal leaves of Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus (Synonym: Penstemon attenuatus ssp. attenuatus)

Taper-leaved penstemon (both and cream-flowered forms) as seen on Bickleton Ridge in the Bickleton Ridge Unit of the Klickitat Wildlife Area........June 17, 2017.

Inflorescence of Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus - Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus

Additional close-up photos of taper-leaved penstemon as seen along forest road #16 in western Logan Valley, Malheur National Forest........June 30, 2010.

Sulphur Penstemon, Taper-leaved Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus with Cusick's paintbrush (Castilleja cusickii)

Cusick's paintbrush (Castilleja cusickii) with tapertip penstemon (Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus) as seen along forest road #16 in western Logan Valley, Malheur National Forest..........June 30, 2010.

Paul Slichter