Penstemon virgatus is a beautiful upper elevation plant with a light purple corolla. The corolla throat has deep purple guidelines on the inside. The guidelines disappear in dried herbarium specimens. Penstemon virgatus is found in moist meadows.
Freeman, in prep (draft for FNA vol. 17), Kearney and Peebles 1969, McDougall 1973
Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Perennial herb, 20-65 cm tall, from a woody caudex; stems 1-7 per plant, straight and erect, puberulent to glabrous. Leaves: Opposite along the stems, occasionally with a basal cluster of leaves as well; lower leaves have petioles and upper leaves are sessile; blades oblanceolate to lanceolate, 2-12 cm long and 3-20 mm wide, glabrous to puberulent, with entire margins. Flowers: Showy and purplish; arranged in narrow one-sided (secund) panicles, 6-40 cm long; sepals 5 per flower, ovate to elliptic, 2-5 mm long, glabrous or hairy; corolla 17-27 mm long, asymmetrically inflated (ventricose), slightly constricted at the top of the throat, and 2-lipped, the upper 2 lobes arched or projecting (not curved in or out), and the lower 3 lobes spreading to reflexed (curved outward to downward); outside surface of corolla glabrous, violet to lavender, pink-lavender or purple; inside of corolla sparsely white-hairy on one side, with red-purple nectar guide lines. Steminode (single sterile stamen) slightly exserted from flower, straight, and glabrous. Fruits: Capsules 9-14 mm long; splitting open longitudinally to release dark brown angled seeds, 2 mm long. Ecology: Found in sandy to gravelly soils in oak woodlands, pine forests, and roadsides, from 5,000-10,000 ft (1524-3048 m); flowers June-October. Distribution: AZ, NM, CO, WY Notes: Another purple Penstemon. Similar to P. ophianthus and P. jamesii, but those species have glandular-pubescent corollas (inside and outside) and the sterile stamen inside each flower (staminode) is hairy, curled, and sticks out of the flower. In contrast, the corolla on P. virgatus is glabrous on the outside and sparsely hairy on the inside surface, and each flower has a straight, non-hairy staminode that just reaches the opening of the corolla or else sticks out a little. Distinguish from P. fendleri based on corolla shape; that species does not have an inflated corolla. Ethnobotany: Used ceremonially by the Ramah Navajo. Etymology: Penstemon comes from the Latin paene, nearly or almost, and Greek stemon, thread, alluding to the single sterile stamen within each flower; virgatus means wand-like, or straight, slender and erect. Synonyms: None Editor: LCrumbacher 2012, AHazelton 2017