Penstemon acuminatus var. acuminatus
Synonym: Penstemon attenuatus var. hyacinthinus
The photo above shows a close-up sideview of the corolla and calyx of sand penstemon as seen in sand dunes along Washington State Road #14 near milepost 115.6.....................May 1, 2005. Note the glabrous calyx and outer surface of the corolla tube.
Sand penstemon is a short perennial, with thick, firm oblanceolate leaves. The one to several stems are stout, erect, and range from 15-60 cm tall. The stems and leaves are both glabrous and glaucous. The thick leathery leaves are entire. The basal leaves range from 4-15 cm long on stiff petioles. Their blades are lanceolate or elliptic and the distal ends abruptly tapers to a short, sharp tip. The stem leaves range from 2-7 cm long and have sessile or clasping bases. Variety latebracteatus has stem leaves that are often longer than wide, while variety acuminatus has broadly elliptic stem leaves which may be shorter than wide.
The inflorescence consists of a vertical series of 3-18 clusters of flowers, each cluster arising from the leaf axils of the upper stem. The sepals are lanceolate or ovate in shape, tapering to sharp tips. They have entire to minutely toothed margins and range from 5-9 mm in length. The corolla ranges from blue to lavender or pink. The throat is moderately inflated and the corolla is noticeably 2-lipped with round, flaring lobes. The corolla ranges from 1.2-2 cm in length. The palate is glabrous. The anthers lack hairs and are black outside. They open totally and are shallowly boat-shaped. The staminode just reaches the mouth and may be glabrous or more commonly yellow haired at the tip.
Sand Penstemon lives on open, frequently sandy places, often on sand dunes.
Sand Penstemon's range is from Grant County, WA in the north to Klickitat and Walla Walla counties (WA), across the Columbia River into northern and eastern (Harney County) Oregon, eastward along the Snake River plains of Idaho (Gooding and Owyhee counties).
Variety latebracteatus is found in central Washington while variety acuminatus may be found in southeastern Oregon, southwestern Idaho, and northern Nevada.
In the Columbia River Gorge, it may be found between the elevations of 200'-600' from east of The Dalles, OR into the far eastern parts of the Gorge.