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Penstemon cobaea (Prairie penstemon)
Smith, R.W.

Penstemon cobaea

Penstemon cobaea Nutt.

Prairie Penstemon, Prairie Beardtongue, Foxglove Penstemon, Foxglove Beardtongue, False Foxglove, Large-flowered Penstemon, Large-flowered Beardtongue, Cobaea Penstemon, Cobaea Beardtongue, Wild Foxglove

Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)

Synonym(s): Penstemon cobaea ssp. purpureus, Penstemon cobaea ssp. typicus, Penstemon cobaea var. purpureus

USDA Symbol: PECO4

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

When in bloom, large, tubular flowers line at least half of Cobaea Beardtongue’s 1-3 ft. stems. The flowers are white to violet with dark purple lines inside the floral tube. One to three stout stems rise from a woody rhizome and bear thick, paired leaves which become smaller up the stem. The lower leaves have often withered by the time of flowering.

This penstemon attracts a variety of moths.


From the Image Gallery

77 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 3 feet tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink , Purple , Violet
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun
Bloom Notes: White to pink or violet to purple, with reddish purple nectar guides.


USA: AR , AZ , CO , IA , IL , KS , MO , NE , NM , OH , OK , TX
Native Distribution: S. NE, s. to s.c. MO, w. AR, OK & e. & c. TX
Native Habitat: Sandy or rocky, open hillsides; limestone outcrops, Loamy soils of Texas across the Rolling Plains and Blackland Prairies south to the Gulf of Mexico.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Calcareous or sandy loam. Rocky, Sandy, Limestone-based, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam Clay
Conditions Comments: Wild foxglove is not related to the true European foxglove. Showy tubular flowers may vary in color from almost white to dark pink to lavender. Cut back the stems after flowering, or wait for the seeds to ripen. This penstemon may go dormant during the summer.


Use Ornamental: Showy, Long-blooming, Blooms ornamental, Perennial garden
Use Wildlife: This penstemon attracts a variety of moths. Nectar-insects, Cover
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Butterflies , Hummingbirds
Larval Host: Dotted Checkerspot butterfly
Nectar Source: yes
Deer Resistant: Minimal

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.

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Dotted Checkerspot
(Poladryas minuta)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Propagation Material: Seeds
Description: Easily raised from seed (blooms second year). Collect seed in summer when capsules are brown and seeds are black.
Seed Collection: Collect seed in summer when capsules are brown and seeds are black.
Seed Treatment: Germination is best with cold-moist stratification.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Order seed of this species from Native American Seed and help support the Wildflower Center.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Wildlife uses of wildflowers in Central Texas
May 01, 2006
How are wildflowers in Central Texas used by wildlife?
view the full question and answer

List of native perennial Texas flowers
March 13, 2006
Good day, I am searching for a list of native Texas flowers (preferably perennials) for a flower garden. Thank you.
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:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
Tohono Chul Park, Inc. - Tucson, AZ
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
NPSOT - Austin Chapter - Austin, TX
NPSOT - Williamson County Chapter - Georgetown, TX

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 0754 Collected Apr 16, 1994 in Comal County by Mary Beth White

1 specimen(s) available in the Digital Herbarium


Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 355 - Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest (1991) Miller, G. O.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 248 - Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide (1984) Loughmiller, C. & L. Loughmiller
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender
Bibref 1294 - The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.
Bibref 328 - Wildflowers of Texas (2003) Ajilvsgi, Geyata.
Bibref 286 - Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country (1989) Enquist, M.

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


Record Modified: 2023-02-22
Research By: TWC Staff

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