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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.

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Penstemon barbatus (Scarlet bugler)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia

Penstemon barbatus

Penstemon barbatus (Cav.) Roth

Scarlet Bugler, Beard-lip Penstemon, Beard-lip Beardtongue, Red Penstemon, Red Beardtongue, Goldenbeard Penstemon, Goldenbeard Beardtongue, Saint Joseph's Staff, Varita De San Jose

Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)

Synonym(s): Penstemon barbatus var. coccineus

USDA Symbol: PEBA2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Slender, bilaterally symmetrical, scarlet flowers hanging slightly in a long open cluster above sparsely leaved stems. Brilliant scarlet flowers are borne in profusion on the 2-4 ft. stalks of this penstemon. Blooms appear most profusely in the spring and again in the fall. Leaves are paired and the flowers are two-lipped.

This species is one of several penstemons with scarlet corollas. The genus name, from the Greek pen ("almost") and stemon ("thread"), refers to the slender fifth, sterile stamen.


From the Image Gallery

34 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Size Class: 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct


USA: AZ , CO , NM , TX , UT
Native Distribution: Sonora in Mexico, north through Arizona, New Mexico, and western Texas to Utah and Colorado
Native Habitat: Mesas; mountains

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Rocky soils.
Conditions Comments: Not Available


Use Wildlife: Attracts hummingbirds.
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.


Description: Propagate by seed.
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: Germination is best with cold-moist stratification.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

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

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Native grasses for medians in Colorado Springs
June 11, 2010
Our city has stopped watering our historic landscaped medians due to severe budget shortfalls. The medians were historically tree boulevards but have had curb and gutter and blue grass added over th...
view the full question and answer

From the National Organizations Directory

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

Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
Tohono Chul Park, Inc. - Tucson, AZ
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2015-10-23
Research By: TWC Staff

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