special snakes, 2013

August 20, 2017

Here I’ll post photos of the more interesting snakes I was able to photo within Utah during 2013’s season.  They are two utah mountain kingsnakes and one ring-necked snake.  Also part of a story here are two great basin rattlers I was able to photo in what I believe may be a posture they assume when hoping to drink rain.

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mid June 2013, utah mountain kingsnake habitat (a), Confusions

mid June 2013, habitat of utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), dead and dismembered subadult (a), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

In mid June I was walking in kingsnake habitat at dusk.  Dusk’s colors can be special.  Habitat was quite dry–no rain for awhile.

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mid June 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (a), Confusions

mid June 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), dead and dismembered subadult (a), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

I was on the lookout for snakes, and came across this unexpected scene.  The photo above shows what I found before I moved anything.

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mid June 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (b), Confusions

mid June 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), dead and dismembered subadult (b), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

Some animal had recently killed and had been devouring this ~20-inch mountain kingsnake.  The blood was still wet.  Maybe I had unknowingly scared away the predator? I could not find the kingsnake’s head, and its sex was uncertain.  I assembled its pieces that I could find–all within about 1m.

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mid June 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (c), Confusions

mid June 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), dead and dismembered subadult (c), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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mid June 2013, utah mountain kingsnake habitat (b), Confusions

mid June 2013, habitat of utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), dead and dismembered subadult (b), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

The following morning I returned to the site to record daytime photos.  Between the big sagebrush shrubs here was where I’d found the kingsnake’s pieces.

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mid June 2013, utah mountain kingsnake habitat (c), Confusions

mid June 2013, habitat of utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), dead and dismembered subadult (c), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

Nearby was this expansive rockpile.  It probably provides habitat for kingsnakes.  Was the kingsnake crawling out on the surface–before nightfall–when the predator attacked it? Or did they meet within rocks or in a tunnel, and the snake was dragged out? Was the predator a skunk, a kit fox, a woodrat, a bird?

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late July 2013, utah mountain kingsnake habitat (a), Confusions

late July 2013, habitat of utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), adult female (a), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

I returned to the area in late July.  I was glad I had hit a cloudy day.  Most summer days there are clear and hotter.

It rained for almost an hour starting around 5pm.  During and within a few hours after that rain, I walked around and was able to photograph the three snakes shown below.  (I also spotted a fourth–a subadult gophersnake happy to be out during the rain–but it dove down a spider’s hole before I could photograph it.)

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late July 2013, great basin rattler female (a), Confusions

late July 2013, great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus), adult female coiled during light rain (a), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

The first was this adult female rattler coiled at the edge of a nevada ephedra shrub.  She was on a slope, with her head at her coils’ lower end.

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late July 2013, great basin rattler female (b), Confusions

late July 2013, great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus), adult female coiled during light rain (b), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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late July 2013, great basin rattler male (a), Confusions

late July 2013, great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus), adult male coiled during light rain (a), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

Nearby I found a male in a similar position, with his head resting on his outer coil that was the lowest.  I suspect some rainwater ran down his scales, and he sipped it.  But I did not witness that myself.

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late July 2013, great basin rattler male (b), Confusions

late July 2013, great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus), adult male coiled during light rain (b), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

Those two rattlers, found within a few minutes of each other during light rain, were actually the first rattlers I had found in that drainage following several visits.  I had found rattlers earlier in other Confusion Range drainages.

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late July 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (a), Confusions

late July 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), adult female (a), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

Later I found an adult utah moutain kingsnake.  I suspect the rain earlier helped urge it out into the open.  I had found two others in this mountain range during previous years, both in the month of May, that had been adult males.  This one was an adult female.  I took plenty of photos…

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late July 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (b), Confusions

late July 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), adult female (b), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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late July 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (c), Confusions

late July 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), adult female (c), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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late July 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (d), Confusions

late July 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), adult female (d), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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late July 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (e), Confusions

late July 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), adult female (e), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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late July 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (f), Confusions

late July 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), adult female (f), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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late July 2013, utah mountain kingsnake habitat (b), Confusions

late July 2013, habitat of utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), adult female (b), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

Here’s a photo from the following morning.  The habitat looks dry, even though the previous day’s rain had been significant enough to help bring out more snakes than I could usually find there.

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late Sept 2013, regal ring-necked snake habitat (a), Oquirrh foothills

late Sept 2013 habitat of regal ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus regalis), adult male (a), facing east, W Oquirrh Mtns foothills, Tooele Co, UT

In late September I visited the Oquirrh Range.  During morning on my drive out, I found a recently squashed, dead snake.  It turned out to be a less-often-seen species, a ring-necked snake.  I think most ring-neckeds are found at higher elevation, with trees near.  This one was found down in the sagebrush, with the nearest junipers about one mile away.

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late Sept 2013, regal ring-necked snake habitat (a), Oquirrh foothills

late Sept 2013 habitat of regal ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus regalis), adult male (b), facing west, W Oquirrh Mtns foothills, Tooele Co, UT

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late Sept 2013, regal ring-necked snake (a), Oquirrh foothills

late Sept 2013 regal ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus regalis), adult male (a), dead-on-road, as found, W Oquirrh Mtns foothills, Tooele Co, UT

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late Sept 2013, regal ring-necked snake (b), Oquirrh foothills

late Sept 2013 regal ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus regalis), adult male (b), dead-on-road, close-up dorsal, W Oquirrh Mtns foothills, Tooele Co, UT

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late Sept 2013, regal ring-necked snake (c), Oquirrh foothills

late Sept 2013 regal ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus regalis), adult male (c), dead-on-road, close-up ventral, W Oquirrh Mtns foothills, Tooele Co, UT

It turned out that during 2014-2017 I was able to find three more ring-necked snakes within Utah, all in other spots where I don’t think that species had been vouchered before.  And it was nice that those later ones were all alive (and away from pavement).  Some photos of those live ring-neckeds may be in subsequent posts here.

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Penstemons, old, 2013

February 19, 2017

After a long lapse, it’s time for another post here.  I’m pretty far behind now, with plenty of accumulated photos that could be posted someday.  Will I ever catch up?

Before moving on to another topic, I’ll pick up right where I left off–still among the penstemons.  There were some more penstemon observations I gathered during 2013.  Here are some shots from that season of “old” species–species I had photographed in previous seasons and had posted here before.

The 5 “old” Penstemon taxa covered in this post are:

eatonii
confusus
dolius
leonardii var. patricus
platyphyllus

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early May 2013, Penstemon eatonii, recently pressed down by snow, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

early May 2013, Penstemon eatonii, recently pressed down by snow, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

I walked up a side canyon and saw some P. eatonii like this.  They had begun to grow for the season and then been snowed upon and pressed down–resulting in this ragged appearance.  P. eatonii extended up to higher elevation in this drainage than the three other Penstemon species I noticed sharing it–pachyphyllus, caespitosus and leonardii var. patricus.

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late May 2013, Penstemon eatonii, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

late May 2013, Penstemon eatonii, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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early May 2013, Penstemon confusus, House Range foothills, Millard Co, UT

early May 2013, Penstemon confusus, House Range foothills, Millard Co, UT

Spring 2013 received a little more rain than usual in this area, and I found a clump of these flowering happily where I had not noticed this species in previous springs.

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early May 2013, Penstemon dolius, House Range foothills, Millard Co, UT

early May 2013, Penstemon dolius, House Range foothills, Millard Co, UT

Amid the P. confusus there were also some P. dolius, flowering at the same time.

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early May 2013, Penstemon dolius (blue) and Penstemon confusus (pink), House Range foothills, Millard Co, UT

early May 2013, Penstemon dolius (blue) and Penstemon confusus (pink), House Range foothills, Millard Co, UT

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mid May 2013, Penstemon dolius (a), House Range foothills, Millard Co, UT

mid May 2013, Penstemon dolius (a), House Range foothills, Millard Co, UT

On a different excursion a couple weeks later in May, I found another patch of P. dolius nearby that did not have P. confusus with it.

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mid May 2013, Penstemon dolius (b), House Range foothills, Millard Co, UT

mid May 2013, Penstemon dolius (b), House Range foothills, Millard Co, UT

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mid May 2013, Penstemon dolius (c), House Range foothills, Millard Co, UT

mid May 2013, Penstemon dolius (c), House Range foothills, Millard Co, UT

Like many Penstemons, within one flowering patch some plants tend lighter or darker.

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mid May 2013, Penstemon dolius (d), House Range foothills, Millard Co, UT

mid May 2013, Penstemon dolius (d), House Range foothills, Millard Co, UT

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late May 2013, Penstemon leonardii var. patricus (a), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

late May 2013, Penstemon leonardii var. patricus (a), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

I had walked up this canyon several times but never noticed this low-elevation patricus plant.  I had missed it because at those other times its flowers had been less prominent.

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late May 2013, Penstemon leonardii var. patricus (b), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

late May 2013, Penstemon leonardii var. patricus (b), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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late July 2013, Penstemon platyphyllus (a), Wasatch Range, Salt Lake Co, UT

late July 2013, Penstemon platyphyllus (a), Wasatch Range, Salt Lake Co, UT

Late July is not the usual flowering time for this species.  But a little July rain had nudged this particular plant into a couple of later-season flowers.  This plant was at the high end of this species’ elevation window in this canyon.  On this visit I noticed no recent flowers on this canyon’s lower-elevation plants that grew in slightly drier conditions.

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late July 2013, Penstemon platyphyllus (b), Wasatch Range, Salt Lake Co, UT

late July 2013, Penstemon platyphyllus (b), Wasatch Range, Salt Lake Co, UT

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late July 2013, habitat of Penstemon platyphyllus, Wasatch Range, Salt Lake Co, UT

late July 2013, habitat of Penstemon platyphyllus, Wasatch Range, Salt Lake Co, UT

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Penstemons, new, 2013

March 23, 2014

During 2013 I photographed 4 Penstemons in flower that I had not photographed in flower before.

Non-flowering P. pachyphyllus I had seen in the Confusion Range before.  Some of those photos are in earlier posts.  My first and second visits during 2013 to the right area were too early, but my third 2013 visit in late May was timed well, and then I obtained some photos of flowering pachyphyllus.  In that P. pachyphyllus habitat, I stumbled onto 3 flowering plants of a very short Penstemon new to me, and that species appears to be P. caespitosus.

During July 2012 a friend had led me on a trail run up an area in Big Cottonwood Canyon near Salt Lake City in the Wasatch Range.  I did not have my camera along for that, so that day I failed to photograph the two Penstemon species we jogged past that I knew were species I had never photographed.  In late June 2013 he asked me to join him and his daughter on a backpacking overnight along that same trail, so I said sure and brought along my camera.  That is how I collected the P. whippleanus and P. leonardii var. leonardii photos here–my first photos of those taxa.

The 4 Penstemon taxa covered in this post are:

pachyphyllus
caespitosus
leonardii var. leonardii
whippleanus

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early May 2013, Penstemon pachyphyllus (a), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

early May 2013, Penstemon pachyphyllus (a), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

All the P. pachyphyllus photos in this post are from one of the two canyons in the Confusion Range where I have seen this species.  It appears P. pachyphyllus was not vouchered previously from this range?

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early May 2013, Penstemon pachyphyllus (b), with last year's stems, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

early May 2013, Penstemon pachyphyllus (b), with last year’s stems, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

During 2012 about half of the P. pachyphyllus plants in this canyon had had their fresh stems cut down and dismantled–I presume by rodents.  This plant’s 2012 stems were still intact the following season.  Curiously, in 2013 a much smaller proportion of P. pachyphyllus stems here seemed dismantled by mammals–less than 10%.  2012’s winter and spring were drier than 2013’s.  Maybe when the neighborhood rodents are thirstier then they are more inclined to nibble down the P. pachyphyllus flower stems?

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early May 2013, Penstemon pachyphyllus (c), closeup of last year's stem, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

early May 2013, Penstemon pachyphyllus (c), closeup of last year’s stem, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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mid May 2013, Penstemon pachyphyllus (a), flowers about to open, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

mid May 2013, Penstemon pachyphyllus (a), flowers about to open, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

In mid May, this plant’s earliest flowers are still about two days from opening.

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late May 2013, Penstemon pachyphyllus (a), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

late May 2013, Penstemon pachyphyllus (a), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

Two weeks later in late May, it appears all this canyon’s P. pachyphyllus plants that will flower in 2013 are now flowering.

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late May 2013, Penstemon pachyphyllus (b), blooming, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

late May 2013, Penstemon pachyphyllus (b), blooming, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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late May 2013, Penstemon pachyphyllus (c), blooming, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

late May 2013, Penstemon pachyphyllus (c), blooming, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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late May 2013, Penstemon pachyphyllus (d), blooming, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

late May 2013, Penstemon pachyphyllus (d), blooming, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

Different plants growing in close proximity can show some difference in coloration.

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late May 2013, Penstemon pachyphyllus (e), blooming, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

late May 2013, Penstemon pachyphyllus (e), blooming, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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late May 2013, Penstemon pachyphyllus (f), blooming, dusk, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

late May 2013, Penstemon pachyphyllus (f), blooming, dusk, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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late May 2013, Penstemon pachyphyllus with roosting Pseudomasaris vespoides (pollen wasp) at dusk (a), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

late May 2013, Penstemon pachyphyllus with roosting Pseudomasaris vespoides (pollen wasp) at dusk (a), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

I spent some time online to figure out the species of this pollen wasp.  It’s quite non-aggressive and specializes in pollen collection.  When I passed these plants in the afternoon, a couple of wasps of this species were flying and gathering pollen from these plants’ flowers.  Now at dusk I found two wasps had begun their overnight rest inserted into open flowers.  The two wasps were still in this same position after nightfall, hours after these photos, when I passed this spot my final time that day.  I wonder whether others have noticed this species of wasp sleeping in P. pachyphyllus flowers?

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late May 2013, Penstemon pachyphyllus with roosting Pseudomasaris vespoides (pollen wasp) at dusk (b), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

late May 2013, Penstemon pachyphyllus with roosting Pseudomasaris vespoides (pollen wasp) at dusk (b), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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mid May 2013, Penstemon caespitosus (a), lowest plant of 3 seen, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

mid May 2013, Penstemon caespitosus (a), lowest plant of 3 seen, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

This was what I stumbled onto in mid May and wondered what “new” species of Penstemon this was.  This plant’s structure and leaf shape are different enough from Penstmons I’d known that, had I not seen the flowers, I would have walked by and assumed it was some aster and not a Penstemon.

Later as I viewed photos online and in books, I did not think this species could be P. caespitosus because its leaves are so different from P. caespitosus leaves of that species’ better-known populations eastward.  But the flowers are quite similar to eastward populations’ flowers, so I assume this is P. caespitosus.  There is at least one previous herbarium voucher of P. caespitosus from the Confusion Range, but I think that’s probably from a different drainage than where I found these.

I only noticed three of these plants, all growing within the span of elevation in which about 30 mature P. pachyphyllus grew.  In these photos’ captions I distinguish the 3 different P. caespitosus plants.  Other Penstemon species that share the same habitat are P. eatonii and P. leonardii var. patricus.

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mid May 2013, Penstemon caespitosus (b), lowest plant of 3 seen, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

mid May 2013, Penstemon caespitosus (b), lowest plant of 3 seen, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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late May 2013, Penstemon caespitosus (a), lowest plant of 3 seen (flowering more now, 2 weeks later), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

late May 2013, Penstemon caespitosus (a), lowest plant of 3 seen (flowering more now, 2 weeks later), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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late May 2013, Penstemon caespitosus (b), middle plant of 3 seen, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

late May 2013, Penstemon caespitosus (b), middle plant of 3 seen, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

This middle P. caespitosus plant among the 3 I noticed was the smallest and looked like it would have only about 3 flowers in 2013.  This plant is partly shaded by a juniper, and probably would appreciate more sun?

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late May 2013, Penstemon caespitosus (c), highest plant of 3 seen, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

late May 2013, Penstemon caespitosus (c), highest plant of 3 seen, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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late May 2013, Penstemon caespitosus (d), highest plant of 3 seen, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

late May 2013, Penstemon caespitosus (d), highest plant of 3 seen, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

This is the best shot I managed that allows seeing into the corolla’s tube.

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late May 2013, Penstemon caespitosus (e), highest plant of 3 seen, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

late May 2013, Penstemon caespitosus (e), highest plant of 3 seen, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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late June 2013, Penstemon leonardii var. leonardii (a), Big Cottonwood Cyn drainage, Wasatch Range, Salt Lake Co, UT

late June 2013, Penstemon leonardii var. leonardii (a), Big Cottonwood Cyn drainage, Wasatch Range, Salt Lake Co, UT

For years I had mistakenly assumed some of the P. humilis or P. cyananthus I saw in the Wasatch Range might be P. leonardii var. leonardii.  But now I can distinguish those reliably.  Here’s P. leonardii var. leonardii, growing up at about 9,300 ft elevation.

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late June 2013, Penstemon leonardii var. leonardii (b), Big Cottonwood Cyn drainage, Wasatch Range, Salt Lake Co, UT

late June 2013, Penstemon leonardii var. leonardii (b), Big Cottonwood Cyn drainage, Wasatch Range, Salt Lake Co, UT

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late June 2013, Penstemon leonardii var. leonardii (c), Big Cottonwood Cyn drainage, Wasatch Range, Salt Lake Co, UT

late June 2013, Penstemon leonardii var. leonardii (c), Big Cottonwood Cyn drainage, Wasatch Range, Salt Lake Co, UT

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late June 2013, Penstemon cyananthus (left) and Penstemon leonardii var. leonardii (right), Big Cottonwood Cyn drainage, Wasatch Range, Salt Lake Co, UT

late June 2013, Penstemon cyananthus (left) and Penstemon leonardii var. leonardii (right), Big Cottonwood Cyn drainage, Wasatch Range, Salt Lake Co, UT

P. leonardii var. patricus and P. cyananthus can share habitat up at the high end of the elevation window for P. cyananthus.

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late June 2013, habitat of Penstemon cyananthus and Penstemon leonardii var. leonardii, Big Cottonwood Cyn drainage, Wasatch Range, Salt Lake Co, UT

late June 2013, habitat of Penstemon cyananthus and Penstemon leonardii var. leonardii, Big Cottonwood Cyn drainage, Wasatch Range, Salt Lake Co, UT

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late June 2013, Penstemon whippleanus (a), Big Cottonwood Cyn drainage, Wasatch Range, Salt Lake Co, UT

late June 2013, Penstemon whippleanus (a), Big Cottonwood Cyn drainage, Wasatch Range, Salt Lake Co, UT

In a mostly shaded, S-facing spot along the trail, there were a few P. whippleanus plants.  This is the light purplish-flowered variety.  In 2007, at higher elevation in the Uintah Range and growing in full sun, I had seen but not photographed the very dark purple-flowered variety of P. whippleanus.

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late June 2013, Penstemon whippleanus (b), Big Cottonwood Cyn drainage, Wasatch Range, Salt Lake Co, UT

late June 2013, Penstemon whippleanus (b), Big Cottonwood Cyn drainage, Wasatch Range, Salt Lake Co, UT

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late June 2013, Penstemon whippleanus (c), Big Cottonwood Cyn drainage, Wasatch Range, Salt Lake Co, UT

late June 2013, Penstemon whippleanus (c), Big Cottonwood Cyn drainage, Wasatch Range, Salt Lake Co, UT

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late June 2013, habitat of Penstemon whippleanus, Big Cottonwood Cyn drainage, Wasatch Range, Salt Lake Co, UT

late June 2013, habitat of Penstemon whippleanus, Big Cottonwood Cyn drainage, Wasatch Range, Salt Lake Co, UT

With this post I believe I’ve now shown here in-flower photos of 25 different Penstemon taxa from Utah and Nevada.  25 is the total if P. cyananthus and longiflorus are considered separate and if both patricus and leonardii variants of P. leonardii are considered (…so I say “taxa” rather than “species”).

At some point I should probably make a compilation post by reposting one photo per taxon–maybe if I reach 30 taxa?

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