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Climbing Penstemon
Keckiella cordifolia
About Climbing Penstemon (Keckiella cordifolia) Nurseries Show All Photos Keckiella cordifolia (formerly Penstemon cordifolius) is a species of flowering shrub in the plantain family known by the common name heartleaf keckiella. It is native to the coast and coastal mountains of southern California and northern Baja California, and it is a resident of chaparral and coastal woodland plant communities. This is a spreading shrub reaching maximum heights in excess of two meters. Its shiny green leaves are oval to heart-shaped, pointed, and edged with small teeth. They are 2 to 6 centimeters long and arranged oppositely on the branches. The shrub produces hairy, hairy flower clusters of many flowers each. The flower is somewhat tubular with a wide open mouth. It is fuzzy on the external surface and any shade of pale orange to deep scarlet. It is up to 3 centimeters long and 4 wide at the mouth, which has three flat lower lobes and two joined upper lobes. Inside the mouth are long filamentous stamens and a flat, hairy, yellow sterile stamen called a staminode.

Best to place this plant in shady slopes in hotter inland areas, preferably in places with a little more natural groundwater such as slope bottoms. Place in sunny spots in cooler coastal areas.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
3 - 6.6 ft (0.9 - 2 m)

Max. Width
3 - 6 ft (0.9 - 1.8 m)

Rounded, Spreading


Growth Rate

Summer Deciduous, Summer Semi-Deciduous

Bright green, heart-shaped

Flower Color

Flowering Season
Spring, Summer

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Rocky, well drained slopes with chaparral, often in shade, in the southern part of the state and the coastal side of the mountain ranges

Part Shade, Sun

Elevation ?
-191' - 7419'

Annual Precip. ?
3.5" - 38.8"

Summer Precip. ?
0.13" - 2.45"

Coldest Month ?
33.5° F - 58.8° F

Hottest Month ?
59.8° F - 87.5° F

Humidity ?
0.47 vpd - 38.32 vpd

Soil Description

Soil PH
6 - 8

Fast, Medium, Slow

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 0 - -5° F

Sunset Zones ?
7, 8, 9, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18*, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*

Companion Plants
Chamise, Woolly Bluecurls, White Sage, California Buckwheat, California Coffeeberry, Toyon, Lemonade Berry, Coastal Prickly Pear Cactus, Manzanita species, Yucca spp,

Wildlife Attracted
Hummingbirds, butterflies, other pollinators

Butterflies ?

Sympistis fortis Image
Sympistis fortisSympistis fortis
Sympistis singularis Image
Sympistis singularisSympistis singularis

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

Water Requirement ?
Very Low, Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water, 1x/month
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Organic with Rocks

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: No treatment.

Common uses
Deer Resistant, Hummingbird Gardens, Bird Gardens, Butterfly Gardens, Bee Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Common Names
Heart-leaved Keckiella, Heartleaf Keckiella

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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