General: Perennial, 20-70 cm tall; stems 1 to a few, erect to ascending; herbage glabrous, sometimes puberulent at the base; caudex somewhat woody. Leaves: Basal and cauline, opposite, narrowly oblanceolate, 5-15 cm long, 5-16 mm wide, the upper cauline blades smaller and linear, margins entire; basal and lower cauline blades petiolate, upper cauline blades sessile. Flowers: Inflorescence of 7-12 whorls of cymes, the lower cymes 2- 5 flowered; pedicels glandular-pubescent; calyx 4-6 mm long, up to 8 mm long in fruit, the lobes lanceolate to narrowly ovate, glandular-pubescent; corolla scarlet to orange-red, glandular-pubescent, sparsely so externally, 22-35 mm long, gradually expanding, strongly bilabiate, the upper lip projecting, forming a hood, the lower lip strongly reflexed, pale yellow, glabrous; staminode included, glabrous; flowers June-September. Fruits: Capsule, 8-13 mm long. Ecology: Wooded slopes, open meadows, limestone ridges, ponderosa pine, spruce fir forests; 2000-2400 m (6500-8000 ft); Apache, Coconino, Navajo, and Yavapai counties; southwestern U.S. Notes: The leaves of P. barbatus look similar to those of P. strictus, but the former species is differentiated by its red corolla. Additionally, P. strictus often occurs in dense clumps, whereas P. barbatus is most often solitary. Penstemon comarrhenus (dusty penstemon) has somewhat broader leaves (7-20 mm wide); a loosely branched inflorescence, the lower peduncles and pedicels becoming elongate and spreading; a somewhat larger (25-38 mm long), pale blue to lavender corolla; and densely villous-woolly anther sacs, these largely obscured. It occurs in pinyon-juniper and ponderosa pine communities, sometimes along roadsides. Penstemon strictus is widely available in the horticultural trade. It is highly drought tolerant, easy to seed, and self-sows readily. It is pollinated by bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds and is a host plant for the variable checkerspot butterfly. Editor: Springer et al. 2008
Penstemon strictus is an upper elevation perennial with blue to purple flowers with hints of pink. The anther sacs bear long soft white hairs. All the flowers appear to one side of the stem, a condition termed "secund." Penstemon stricuts is found in rocky or sandy roadsides.