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Penstemon fruticosus (Bush penstemon)
Glase, Terry

Penstemon fruticosus

Penstemon fruticosus (Pursh) Greene

Bush Penstemon, Bush Beardtongue, Shrubby Penstemon, Shrubby Beardtongue

Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)


USDA Symbol: PEFR3

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

This is a low, compact, shrubby, semi-evergreen perennial with pairs of dark-green leaves, some of which turn reddish in the fall before dropping. A bushy plant, usually much broader than tall, with large, showy, pale lavender or pale blue-violet, bilaterally symmetrical flowers in crowded, narrow clusters at stem ends. Tubular rose-purple to lavender flowers extend horizontally in short, spike-like clusters. The entire plant is 6-16 in. tall.

In a genus with many beautiful species, this one may be the most spectacular. Bright green, leafy patches cascade down banks and between rocks, topped with a dense display of subtly shaded flowers that butterflies seem to find especially attractive.


From the Image Gallery

8 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 16 inches tall.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Blue , Purple , Violet
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug


USA: ID , MT , OR , WA , WY
Canada: BC
Native Distribution: E. of the Cascade summits from s. B.C. to c. OR, e. to the Rockies of MT & WY
Native Habitat: Open, rocky or wooded foothill & higher elevation sites

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Dry, rocky soil.


Use Wildlife: Hummingbirds
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Hummingbirds

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: Propagation by cuttings is quite easy. Seeds germinate without treatment, but yield is low. Young seedling tend to damp off.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

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

From the National Organizations Directory

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

Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR

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


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

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