Penstemon whippleanus is an upper elevation beardtongue that prefers moist mixed conifer forest. The corolla is dark purple. The leaves are connate-perfoliate. There are many flowers per node.
Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Subshrub General: Perennial, 20-60 cm tall; stems several, erect or ascending; herbage glabrous below, becoming glandular- puberulent above; caudex woody, branched. Leaves: Basal and cauline, opposite, the basal blades lanceolate, ovate, or elliptic, mostly 4-9 cm long, 1-3 cm wide, the cauline blades narrowly lanceolate to oblanceolate, mostly 2.5-6 cm long, 3-15 mm wide, glabrous, margins entire or dentate; basal blades long-petiolate, cauline blades sessile and cordate-clasping. Flowers: Inflorescence narrow, secund, with few to several whorls of cymes, these 2-5 flowered; calyx 2-4 mm long, the lobes ovate to obovate, the apex acute to acuminate, margins usually membranous; corolla pale blue, pale or deep blue-violet, white, or sometimes pink-lavender, 15- 28 mm long, broadly expanded, strongly bilabiate, the upper lips projecting to spreading, the lower lips spreading to reflexed, white-bearded, the throat marked with purplish guidelines; staminode glabrous; flowers June-September. Fruits: Capsule, 6-9 mm long, glandular-puberulent at the apex; seeds 1-1.5 mm long. Ecology: Meadows, open slopes, subalpine, sometimes alpine; 2000- 3700 m (6500-12000 ft); Apache, Coconino, and Mohave counties; western to southwestern U.S. Notes: Penstemon oliganthus (Apache beardtongue) is similar to P. whippleanus, but is distinguished by entire leaf margins; a few-flowered inflorescence, calyx 4-6 mm long, corolla 1.5-2.5 cm long, expanded gradually, pale blue or purple, the tube often lighter, lower lip densely bearded; and a staminode with a dense beard for most of its length. It occurs in mountain meadows in Apache, Navajo, Coconino, and Greenlee counties. Penstemon rydbergii (Rydberg-s penstemon) has stems 1 to several, arising from a branched woody caudex; herbage is glabrous to puberulent, sometimes with lines of hairs on the stem originating from the leaf bases; basal and lower cauline blades are oblanceolate, mostly 4-7 cm long, petiolate, the upper cauline blades lanceolate, smaller, and sessile; inflorescence is of 2-7 densely flowered whorls of cymes, glabrous to puberulent, not glandular; corolla is 1-1.6 (2) cm long, blue-violet to blue-purple, the lobes subequal, the lower lip white- to yellow-bearded; staminode bearded with yellow hairs at the apex. In Arizona, it is known from moist meadows of the Kaibab Plateau at 2600-2700 m (8500-9000 ft). Penstemon whippleanus requires regular watering but makes an attractive ornamental for the native rock garden. It attracts both hummingbirds and butterflies, and is a host plant for the variable checkerspot butterfly. Editor: Springer et al. 2008