Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!


Plant Database

Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.

Enter a Plant Name:
Or you can choose a plant family:
Penstemon ambiguus (Pink plains penstemon)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia

Penstemon ambiguus

Penstemon ambiguus Torr.

Pink Plains Penstemon, Pink Plains Beardtongue, Gilia Penstemon, Gilia Beardtongue, Sand Penstemon, Sand Beardtongue

Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Pink Plains Beardtongue or Sand Penstemon is a mounded, fine-stemmed, shrub-like perennial, 1-3 ft. tall. In bloom, billows of whitish-pink, tubular flowers with pansy-like faces cover the plant. Masses of pinkish-white flowers bloom atop upright stems. Flowering increases with age as the woody base produces more stems. Leaves are thread-like in width, some persisting year-round.

Pink Plains Penstemon blooms most heavily in May, then continues until Oct., depending on moisture. The plant will tolerate extreme heat and drought conditions.


From the Image Gallery

25 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 3 feet tall.
Flower: Flower 1 inch

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct


USA: AZ , CO , KS , NM , NV , OK , TX , UT , WY
Native Distribution: KS & CO to s. UT & NV, s. to w. TX, e. NM, & Chihuahua in n. Mex.
Native Habitat: Sandy plains, hills & mesas

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Sandy, Sandy Loam
Conditions Comments: Sand penstemon blooms most heavily in May, then continues until Oct., depending on moisture. The plant will tolerate extreme heat and drought conditions.


Use Ornamental: Showy, Long-blooming, Blooms ornamental, Perennial garden
Use Wildlife: Cover, Nectar-insects
Warning: This plant contains substances that can cause painful irritation of the mouth and throat if ingested. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a personís age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. Toxicity can vary in a plant according to season, the plantís different parts, and its stage of growth; and plants can absorb toxic substances, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants from the water, air, and soil.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

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


Propagation Material: Seeds
Description: Plants may be progagated by root division or seed sown in cool soil ‚Äď spring or early fall.
Seed Treatment: Germination is best with cold-moist stratification.
Commercially Avail: yes

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Tohono Chul Park, Inc. - Tucson, AZ
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX


Bibref 355 - Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest (1991) Miller, G. O.
Bibref 995 - Native Landscaping from El Paso to L.A. (2000) Wasowski, S. and A. Wasowski
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender
Bibref 328 - Wildflowers of Texas (2003) Ajilvsgi, Geyata.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2023-02-21
Research By: TWC Staff

Go back