Penstemon in PBS BX 162

Steve Marak
Wed, 10 Jun 2009 22:51:49 PDT
I'll add (since I was the one who wrote Dennis about this penstemon) a 
couple of comments ....

One is that many species from the dryer regions of the western US don't do 
well here in NW Arkansas; the dry time in the summer is no problem for 
them, but if they're from higher altitudes they don't tolerate the heat 
well, and if they do winter wet often does them in very quickly. I'm 
amazed, given where this seed was collected, that these have survived 
several consecutive days well below freezing with night temperatures 
around -12 C and an exceptionlly rainy spring. I normally do a lot of soil 
amendment for drainage for western species, and often it's not enough. 
This one, however, seems quite happy growing in the soil in my yard. 

Another is that I've seen Penstemon barbatus in Colorado, New Mexico, and 
Arizona, and the plants from this bunch of seed seem to have more 
variation in color than those I've seen in the wild - from quite red to 
more pinkish to slight tinges of orange. 

Although not a geophyte, I'm certainly pleased with it. I've seen both 
hummingbirds and bees at it, but I'll be doing some hand pollination 
hoping for a good seed set. Thanks, Dennis, for sending it in.


On Sun, 7 Jun 2009, Dennis Szeszko wrote:

> Somebody wrote to me requesting an ID on some wild-collected seeds that I
> provided to the PBS BX almost two years ago.  Below is a copy of his text
> and my reply in case anybody else requested seeds from this seed lot.
> Dennis:
> I was one of the recipients of Penstemon seed from Texcoco that you
> contributed to BX 162, in late 2007.
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Steve:
> I think that your plant is Penstemon barbatus (Cav.) Roth.  I made this
> determination based on the smooth edges of the leaves (not serrated as in P.
> campanulatus) and also because of the yellow filamentous hairs on the lower
> lip of the flowers.  If you do a google search you will see a lot of
> misidentified plants with this label because it is a parent of many hybrids,
> but I'm confident of my ID after working through the key in the botanical
> textbook "Flora fanerogamica del Valle de Mexico".
> Texcoco is an area right outside of Mexico City located at around 2500-2600
> meters above sea level. In the wild, I suspect that the plants would never
> be exposed to freezing temperatures because they come from a subtropical
> clilmate, but they do tolerate cool and cold conditions quite well.  The
> only thing that I can add is that you should try to have VERY well drained
> soil because the seeds of this plant were collected in rocky volcanic soil.
> -Dennis

-- Steve Marak

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