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Penstemon digitalis Nutt. ex Sims
Mississippi Penstemon, Mississippi Beardtongue, Smooth White Penstemon, Smooth White Beardtongue, Talus Slope Penstemon, Talus Slope Beardtongue, Foxglove 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.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Root Type: Tap
Leaf Retention: Semi-evergreen
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 5 feet tall.
Flower: Flowers 1 inch long.
Fruit: Tan .
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Purple
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul
Bloom Notes: White, sometimes tinged lavender, with reddish purple nectar guides.
DistributionUSA: 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 ConditionsWater 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.
BenefitUse Ornamental: A great bloomer for clay loam in areas with poor drainage.
Use Wildlife: Hummingbirds and bumblebees
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Nectar Source: yes
Value to Beneficial InsectsSpecial Value to Native Bees
Special Value to Bumble Bees
This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
PropagationPropagation 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 they've turned brown. Somewhat short-lived, so keep a supply of seed on hand to renew your population.
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...
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National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College, The - Valhalla, NY
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
First United Methodist Church of Jefferson City - Jefferson City, TN
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
BibliographyBibref 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
Bibref 1294 - 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
Web ReferenceWebref 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 resourcesUSDA: Find Penstemon digitalis in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Penstemon digitalis in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Penstemon digitalis
MetadataRecord Modified: 2023-02-22
Research By: TWC Staff