Penstemon digitalis (Smooth White Beardtongue)

USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York. Vol. 3: 184.


Where Commonly Found: Meadows, fields and wetlands, CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, RI, VT.  It is extremely rare in RI, so NO collecting in RI.
How to Identify:
(For unfamiliar words: Wikipedia Glossary of Botanical Terms).
Go Botany Key to Penstemon digitalis.
Missouri Botanical Garden webpage for Penstemon digitalis.
Flower:  One of more flower stalks emerge from the rosette of leaves, stretching to about 3′ tall, with a white panicle of 1″ tubular flowers appearing on each flower stem, May to Mid June.  The corolla is divided into a 3-lobed lower lip and 2-lobed upper lip.
Leaf Arrangement: 
Penstemon digitalis begins with one or more rosettes of clustered basal leaves followed by opposite leaves on the flower stalks
Leaf Type: 
The basal leaves tend toward ovate or obovate and are light green and hairless with tiny teeth on the edges and a shiny leaf surface.  The stalk leaves are more medium green with occasional red tints and are varied in shape, but mostly ovate, obovate or broadly lanceolate, up to 2.5″ wide by 6″ long, generally with smooth margins.
Height:  3′ – 5′
Seed Collection:  Usually the flower stem turns dark brown as the oval seed capsules develop.  The capsule contains numerous small grey, pitted and angled, seeds that can be carried by the wind short distances.

  Bees, Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Use:  Garden, Rain Garden and Monarch Garden
Light:  Full Sun
Hardiness Zone:  3 to 8  USDA Zone Map
Soils:  Dry to Moist
Notes:  Smooth White Beardtongue is a clump-forming native perennial, a mainstay of a pollinator garden, providing some critical early season nectar and pollen.  Beardtongue attracts lots of butterflies and hummingbirds.
Naturalized in most of the Northeast, native to much of the Southern and Mid-Western US:  Biota of North America Program (BONAP) – North America Plant Atlas (NAPA)

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