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Firecracker Penstemon
Penstemon eatonii
About Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii) Nurseries Show All Photos Penstemon eatonii is a species in the Plantaginaceae (Plantain) family known by the common name Eaton's Firecracker. It is native to the western United States from California to the Rocky Mountains, where it grows in many types of desert, woodland, forest, and open plateau habitat. In California it is found primarily in high desert areas. It is a perennial herb producing several sprawling to erect stems reaching one meter in maximum height. The leaves, found mostly in the basal rosette, are lance-shaped to oval, untoothed, and up to 9 centimeters in length. The flower cluster produces showy tubular flowers in shades of bright red, sometimes exceeding 3 centimeters in length. The flower is narrow and cylindrical, not spreading much at the mouth. This plant is excellent for rock gardens, desert gardens, and interior valleys.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Perennial herb

Max. Height
2.5 - 3.3 ft (0.8 - 1 m)

Max. Width
3 ft (0.9 m)


Growth Rate

Winter Deciduous

Flower Color
Yellow, Red

Flowering Season
Spring, Summer

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Higher elevation deserts of southern and eastern California, below 8,000 ft.

Sun, Part Shade

Elevation ?
2438' - 9484'

Annual Precip. ?
5.3" - 40.2"

Summer Precip. ?
0.78" - 3.89"

Coldest Month ?
26.7° F - 52.4° F

Hottest Month ?
51.0° F - 79.6° F

Humidity ?
0.61 vpd - 29.91 vpd

Soil Description
Sand or decomposed granite

Soil PH
6.0 - 8.0


Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 20° F

Sunset Zones ?
1, 2, 3, 7*, 10, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21

Wildlife Attracted
Hummingbirds love the flowers. Species in the Penstemon genus are host plants to several butterfly species including the Arachne Checkerspot, Chalcedon Checkerspot, and Common Buckeye

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Very Easy

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

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
Keep moist


Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: 1-2 mos. stratification.

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

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Common Names
Eaton Penstemon, Eaton's Firecracker, Eaton's Penstemon

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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