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Desert Penstemon
Penstemon pseudospectabilis
About Desert Penstemon (Penstemon pseudospectabilis) Nurseries Show All Photos Penstemon pseudospectabilis is a species in the Plantaginaceae (Plantain) family known by the common name Desert Beardtongue or Desert Penstemon. It is native to the southwestern United States, where it grows in desert and plateau habitat types, such as sandy washes, scrub, and woodland. In California it is found primarily in the Mojave Desert. The plant is generally a shrub growing to a maximum height of one meter, with many erect stems. The thin leaves are roughly oval with wide pointed tips and serrated edges. They are arranged oppositely in pairs and many pairs are completely fused at the bases about the stem, forming a disc. The flower cluster bears tubular flowers with expanded, lobed mouths and hairy hairs on most surfaces, except the hairless staminode. The flower may be up to 2.5 centimeters long and is reddish pink in color.

Like most Penstemons, this species is very showy when in flower. Though native to hot, arid locations it is adaptable to most of southern California and is tolerant of garden conditions. give it plenty of sun and fast drainage, When in bloom it will be constantly in use by bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Perennial herb

Max. Height
1 - 3.3 ft (0.3 - 1 m)

Max. Width
3 ft (0.9 m)


Growth Rate


Flower Color
Pink, Red

Flowering Season

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Gravelly or rocky places, usually mountain or high desert


Elevation ?
264' - 6240'

Annual Precip. ?
3.4" - 13.0"

Summer Precip. ?
0.25" - 2.85"

Coldest Month ?
46.0° F - 63.1° F

Hottest Month ?
68.1° F - 88.3° F

Humidity ?
2.32 vpd - 40.46 vpd

Soil Description
Rocky, sandy, gravelly

Soil PH
6.0 - 8.0


Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 15° F

Sunset Zones ?
10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21

Companion Plants
Can be used with a variety of native plants including many not found in its native range, such as Manzanitas (Arctostaphylos sp.), Ceanothus sp., Brittlebush (Encelia sp.), Lupine (Lupinus sp.), California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica), Dudleya sp., and various cactus species.

Wildlife Attracted
Hummingbirds and a variety of insects are attracted to the flowers. Species in the genus Penstemon are host plants for the Chalcedon Checkerspot, Arachne Checkerspot, and Common Buckeye butterflies.

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

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

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
Keep moist


Deadheading will induce additional flowering. Dried seed heads can be sprinkled around to spread seed, or saved and propagated as described below.

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: 1 mo. stratification ( Plants of the Southwest 1986 ).

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

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Common Names
Desert Beardtongue

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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