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Native Plant Database

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Penstemon digitalis (Mississippi penstemon)
Flaigg, Norman G.

Penstemon digitalis

Penstemon digitalis Nutt. ex Sims

Mississippi penstemon, Smooth white beardtongue, Talus slope penstemon, Foxglove beardtongue

Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)

Synonym(s): Penstemon laevigatus ssp. digitalis, Penstemon laevigatus var. angulatus

USDA Symbol: pedi

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (I)

The foliage of this robust perennial can be semi-evergreen in the South. Its erect, 2-5 ft. stems are topped with stalked clusters of white, tubular, unevenly five-lobed flowers which rise in pairs from the upper leaf axils.

Some authorities say this species was originally indigenous only to areas in the Mississippi Basin.

 

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Root Type: Tap
Leaf Retention: Semi-evergreen
Size Notes: 18 inches to 3 feet
Flower: Flowers 1 inch long
Fruit: Tan
Size Class: 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul
Bloom Notes: White with purple lines in throat for bees.

Distribution

USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NB , NS , ON , QC
Native Distribution: ME to MI & SD, s. to VA, AL & e. TX. Some authorities say its original distribution was limited to the Mississippi River basin.
Native Habitat: Low, moist areas; prairies; open woodlands

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low , Medium , High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist , Wet
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Fertile, well-drained loams, clay loams, and sand. Acid preferably but tolerates lime.
Conditions Comments: Will tolerate dry shade.

Benefit

Use Ornamental: A great bloomer for clay loam in areas with poor drainage.
Use Wildlife: Hummingbirds and bumblebees
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Hummingbirds
Nectar Source: yes

Propagation

Propagation Material: Root Division , Seeds , Softwood Cuttings
Description: Division is the easiest method of increase. Separate crowns in fall or early spring. Prune back the foliage of each new division. Propagate also by seed.
Seed Collection: Seeds ripen in fall.
Seed Treatment: Germination is best with cold-moist stratification and light.
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: For a neat appearance, cut bloom stalks once theyve turned brown. Somewhat short-lived, so keep a supply of seed on hand to renew your population.

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees
Special Value to Bumble Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Native flowers for Door County, Wisconsin
September 02, 2009
We recently were required to put in a new septic system on our vacation property in Door County, WI. This left us with a clearing on our wooded lot where the septic field is now located. The installer...
view the full question and answer

National Wetland Indicator Status

Region:AGCPAKAWCBEMPGPHIMWNCNEWMVE
Status: FAC FAC FACW FAC FAC
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Suppliers Directory

According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:

Edge of the Woods Native Plant Nursery - Orefield, PA
Sunshine Farm & Gardens - Renick, WV
Enchanter's Garden - Hinton, WV
Ohio Prairie Nursery - Hiram, OH
American Native Nursery - Quakertown, PA
Toadshade Wildflower Farm - Frenchtown, NJ
Prairie Nursery - Westfield, WI

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:

Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College, The - Valhalla, NY
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
* Available Online from Wildflower Center Store

Bibliography

Bibref 928 - 100 easy-to-grow native plants for Canadian gardens (2005) Johnson, L.; A. Leyerle
Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
* The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Penstemon digitalis in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Penstemon digitalis in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Penstemon digitalis

Metadata

Record Last Modified: 2013-09-09
Research By: TWC Staff

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