Penstemons, red and pink, 2010-2012

March 18, 2013

This is the final post covering my Penstemon shots from 2010-2012.  Shown here are the 5 red or pink -flowering species of Penstemon I photographed across these 3 seasons.  1 of these species I had not photographed before–utahensis.

The 5 species shown in this post are:

rostriflorus
palmeri
eatonii
confusus
utahensis

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early July 2010, Penstemon rostriflorus (a), S Mineral Mtns, Beaver Co, UT

early July 2010, Penstemon rostriflorus (a), S Mineral Mtns, Beaver Co, UT

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early July 2010, Penstemon rostriflorus (b), S Mineral Mtns, Beaver Co, UT

early July 2010, Penstemon rostriflorus (b), S Mineral Mtns, Beaver Co, UT

When this species occurs in full sun, as shown, it can bear more flowers than when in shadier spots.

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early Oct 2012, Penstemon rostriflorus, W Antelope Range, Iron Co, UT

early Oct 2012, Penstemon rostriflorus, W Antelope Range, Iron Co, UT

Plants that would flower during a year of average precipitation sometimes endure a dry springtime with essentially no precipitation, and then that summer they do not bother to flower at all.

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early Oct 2012, Penstemon rostriflorus, central Antelope Range, Iron Co, UT

early Oct 2012, Penstemon rostriflorus, central Antelope Range, Iron Co, UT

The flower stalks you see on this old plant are all left over from the previous year.  In 2012 this plant did not flower.

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early Oct 2012, Penstemon rostriflorus, E Antelope Range, Iron Co, UT

early Oct 2012, Penstemon rostriflorus, E Antelope Range, Iron Co, UT

However, in a different part of this mountain range I found a few plants with these very late-season flowers.  I believe these P. rostriflorus did not begin to flower in ~July like usual, but instead began in late September.  Here in this spot, mostly shaded by junipers and aided by the little rain that fell July-Sept, these plants released a few very late flowers–which came so late they probably failed to result in viable seed?

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early July 2010, Penstemon palmeri, S Mineral Mtns, Beaver Co, UT

early July 2010, Penstemon palmeri, S Mineral Mtns, Beaver Co, UT

This species is very easy to see and has been transferred north of its native range during recent decades by humans.  Why did it fail to migrate into north half of Utah on its own, since now it persists just fine in patches there? Maybe on its own it had been progressing north slowly? Hmm.  In any case these plants here in the southern Mineral Mtns occur within the species’ natural range, I believe.

P. palmeri may be the only Utah-native Penstemon that has a good, strong scent.  I think this suggests it has evolved toward pollination by moths–in addition to the daytime pollinators it attracts.

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early July 2010, habitat of Penstemon palmeri, S Mineral Mtns, Beaver Co, UT

early July 2010, habitat of Penstemon palmeri, S Mineral Mtns, Beaver Co, UT

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mid June 2010, Penstemon eatonii, E Pine Valley Mtns, Washington Co, UT

mid June 2010, Penstemon eatonii, E Pine Valley Mtns, Washington Co, UT

Here along the Pine Valley Mtns, this species’ leaves are broad & irregularly ruffled.  Years prior, I had noticed these leaves looked much different than the P. eatonii leaves farther N and NE.  Before seeing these plants’ flowers, I assumed these plants must be something other than P. eatonii, and I mistakenly considered these plants P. laevis, which seemed reasonable based on what I could observe.  But no–once I saw these flowers it was obvious these are P. eatonii.

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mid June 2010, Penstemon eatonii, W Antelope Range (a), Iron Co, UT

mid June 2010, Penstemon eatonii, W Antelope Range (a), Iron Co, UT

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mid June 2010, Penstemon eatonii, W Antelope Range (b), Iron Co, UT

mid June 2010, Penstemon eatonii, W Antelope Range (b), Iron Co, UT

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late May 2011, Penstemon eatonii, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

late May 2011, Penstemon eatonii, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

Notice how these leaves are narrow and unruffled–much different than those of the plant 3 photos above & 2 counties south.

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early Sept 2012, Penstemon eatonii, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

early Sept 2012, Penstemon eatonii, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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Penstemon pachyphyllus w P. eatonii (b), Confusions

early Sept 2012, Penstemon pachyphyllus with Penstemon eatonii, closer (b), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

I posted this shot in an earlier post that focussed on P. pachyphyllus.  Here the two Penstemon species grow near each other in the dry wash.

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early May 2010, Penstemon confusus, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

early May 2010, Penstemon confusus, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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mid May 2010, Penstemon confusus, S North House Range, Millard Co, UT

mid May 2010, Penstemon confusus, S North House Range, Millard Co, UT

These two shots’ P. confusus plants were each growing in full sun.  This species can also occur in areas mostly shaded by pinion-juniper.  It seems to me that growing in full sun means, in most years, conditions will be too dry for P. confusus to flower.  But on a rare wet year these that grow in full sun might flower more than those in shade can ever flower.  That’s my theory.

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mid June 2010, Penstemon confusus, W foothills, Hurricane Cliffs, Iron Co, UT

mid June 2010, Penstemon confusus, W foothills, Hurricane Cliffs, Iron Co, UT

Looks like this species likes red sand as substrate, too.

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mid June 2010, Penstemon confusus, white-throated variant, W foothills, Hurricane Cliffs, Iron Co, UT

mid June 2010, Penstemon confusus, white-throated variant, W foothills, Hurricane Cliffs, Iron Co, UT

Notice the longer, pointier petals, and the white throats of this plant’s flowers.  This was the only odd variant I saw among dozens here of the usual ones.

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mid June 2010, Penstemon confusus, E foothills, Pine Valley Mtns, Washington Co, UT

mid June 2010, Penstemon confusus, E foothills, Pine Valley Mtns, Washington Co, UT

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mid June 2010, Penstemon confusus, W Antelope Range, Iron Co, UT

mid June 2010, Penstemon confusus, W Antelope Range, Iron Co, UT

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late May 2011, Penstemon confusus, Confusion Range (a), Millard Co, UT

late May 2011, Penstemon confusus, Confusion Range (a), Millard Co, UT

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late May 2011, Penstemon confusus, Confusion Range (b), Millard Co, UT

late May 2011, Penstemon confusus, Confusion Range (b), Millard Co, UT

These growing in the Confusions have flowers with bolder guidelines than those of this species I’ve seen elsewhere.

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late May 2010, Penstemon utahensis, Moab area (a), Grand Co, UT

late May 2010, Penstemon utahensis, Moab area (a), Grand Co, UT

Late May on an average year is past peak bloom for this population here.  But I took some shots since I’d never photoed this species before.

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late May 2010, Penstemon utahensis, Moab area (b), Grand Co, UT

late May 2010, Penstemon utahensis, Moab area (b), Grand Co, UT

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late May 2010, Penstemon utahensis, Moab area (c), Grand Co, UT

late May 2010, Penstemon utahensis, Moab area (c), Grand Co, UT

Okay, take a look at this shot.  What is odd about it? Something is special.  See it?

Count the petals.  Penstemon flowers are supposed to have two on the top and three on the bottom.  I photoed my first six-petaled Penstemon flower here.  As a child I used to look at clover plants in search of a four-leaved clover I never found.  But I can say I’ve found a six-petaled Penstemon, woo-hoo.

Maybe six petals is fairly common in this population?

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One Response to “Penstemons, red and pink, 2010-2012”

  1. Brian L Nielsen said

    Very neat Mark. It is fun to see an update. It was cool looking at the anomalous flower. Every bit as lucky as a four leaf clover in my opinion. The oddness of the flower is that it was lacking in oddness. It wasn’t even odd, it was oddly even.

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