Penstemon strictus

Penstemon strictus is a showy, semi-evergreen perennial.  It is one of the most long-lived and most easily grown penstemons.  It tends to have multiple tall (1-3 ft) flowering stems that rise out of low basal rosettes.  Penstemon strictus is quite striking when blooming.  The flowers range from blue/violet to lavender and are long and smooth.  The two upper petals point straight along the tube like a porch roof, giving rise to the little used name of “porch penstemon.”  The flowers are secund, meaning they are arranged along one side of the stem.  Penstemon strictus is a major attraction to butterflies, hummingbirds, and native bees.  Studies have shown a link between the high rate of pollinator visits to an increased rate of nectar production.

The basal leaves are long, narrow and smooth textured, reducing in size up the stem.  They often turn from green to red during the colder winter months.

Penstemon strictus prefers full sun and well drained soil, but can tolerate heavy soils better than most other penstemons.  This makes it one of the easiest penstemons to grow.  The native range is from southern Wyoming and western Colorado south to northeast Arizona and northern New Mexico.  Penstemon strictus is common and can form large colonies in Pinyon/Juniper forests or in open areas of ponderosa pine or aspen/spruce forests.  Penstemon strictus is often associated with sagebrush.

Native Americans used the roots of Penstemon strictus to relieve toothaches. The leaves were used as a coagulant, a pain reliever and as an antiseptic.

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