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Rock Penstemon

Rock Penstemon, Cliff Beardtongue, Penstemon rupicola

Rock Penstemon clinging to rock ledge, photographer Ken Rasmussen Sr., D.C.

You will find Rock Penstemon growing from mid to high elevations, their dense mats of leaves and showy flowers clinging to cracks in rocks and many times growing vertically on rock ledges.  The plant is an evergreen with 1/4 to 3/4 inch leaves tending toward wide oval to almost round in shape.  The leaves can appear from a deep green-blue but due to a protective white waxy surface during stages of growth can look more like a dusty white green.  The colors of these flowers range from pink, pinkish-laveder to light purple. The plants grow up to 6 inches high, with clusters of tubular flowers with a deep throat, protruding from the throat are five stamen.

Rock Penstemon growing along Barlow Point Trail, photographer Martha Rasmussen

Rock Penstemon begins to bloom in mid-May and later in higher elevation.  There are over 200 species of Penstemon, almost all of them are from North America.  The name Penstemon comes from the Greek word "pente" meaning "of five" referring to the flowers having five stamen. Rock Penstemon is one of the shortest of the species of the Penstemon family normally reaching heights up to 4 inches and rarely seen growing as tall as 6 inches.

You will find Rock Penstemon growing around the Darrington area in the higher elevations where there is exposed rock.  Some good trails to see this flower is Barlow Point, Mt. Pugh, White Chuck Ridge and Eight Mile.