Penstemon, also known as Beardtongue, is a genus of more than 200 species in the family Plantaginaceae, native to North America. Penstemon produces attractive spikes of tubular or funnel-shaped flowers. The bright, nectar-rich flowers are usually large, showy and five-petalled. Penstemons are attractive in the garden and have a long season of bloom. These lovely flowers will attract bees, butterflies, moths, flies and hummingbirds to your garden!
The scientific name "Penstemon" was derived from the Greek words "penta" ("five") and "stemon" ("stamen"), due to the fact that one of the five stamens is sterile and visually distinctive from the others.
The common name "Beardtongue" comes from the long and hairy stamen which looks like a tongue located in the center of the lip-shaped flowers.
Penstemon represents courage and spiritual knowledge.
Interesting facts about Penstemon:
The American Penstemon Society is an organization formed in 1946 by a group of gardeners to promote knowledge about Penstemons, their introduction into cultivation, and the development of new and improved cultivars. The members are also active in hybridizing and selecting superior forms for gardens.
Penstemons have been used for hundreds of years by Native Americans as one of their medicinal plants. They treated toothaches by chewing the root pulp of this plant and then placing it in the cavity. They also used this plant to prevent inflammation and accelerate healing of the open wounds.
Today, Penstemons are often cultivated in ornamental purposes.
Due to their drought tolerance, Penstemons are frequently used in xeriscaping, a type of landscaping that reduces the need for supplemental watering.