With such a weird name, beard tongue is probably less commonly known by its common name than by the Latin name of Penstemon. Of the thousands of cultivars (cultivated varieties) that have been developed over the decades, most of those that are popular for home gardens are known as cultivars of Penstemon gloxinioides, even though their actual lineage is generally unknown. In recent years, other species have become more available.
Spikes of red, pink, purple or white flowers stand vertically above the foliage. Yellow flowers are still rather rare. Individual flowers are bisymmetrically tubular, with two conspicuous lips and a fuzzy tongue. Some beard tongue have relatively wide leaves and plump flowers, like really big snapdragons. Others have narrow leaves and thin flowers. Mature plants get only 1 to 2½ feet high and a bit wider, although some of the rare specie can get significantly larger.
3 thoughts on “Beard Tongue”
I was only in recent years introduced to the penstemon and love it’s delicate looking bloom. They really highlight my flower beds and the hummingbirds love them.
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They are popular here because they do not need much water. A long time ago, they had been marketed as natives, even though the modern cultivars that are popular in home gardens are hybrids of species from various regions, and not many are originally from California.