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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