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 choose a plant family:
Penstemon spectabilis (Showy penstemon)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia

Penstemon spectabilis

Penstemon spectabilis Thurb. ex A. Gray

Showy Penstemon, Showy Beardtongue, Royal Penstemon, Royal Beardtongue

Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)


USDA Symbol: pesp3

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

This is an extremely showy perennial. Its leafy stems rise to 3 ft. and bear a spectacular display of up to 100 flowers on the upper half of the stem. The inflated, tubular flowers range in color from lavender-purple to pink. The two rounded lobes of the upper lip and the three lobes of the lower lip are usually blue, while the inside of the flower is white. Pairs of bright-green, toothed leaves clasp the stem.


From the Image Gallery

3 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Pink , Blue , Purple
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun


Native Distribution: Cismontane slopes in s. CA
Native Habitat: Dry washes & disturbed areas below 6000 ft.

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
Soil Description: Rocky soils.
Conditions Comments: Overwatered plants are susceptible to root rot. This species often self-seeds.

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 stem cuttings and root division is possible but seed is the easiest method. Plant in spring. Division should be in the fall; softwood cutting should be taken in summer.
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: Germination is best with cold-moist stratification but no treatment may give satisfactory results.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

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

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

From the National Organizations Directory

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

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR


Bibref 995 - Native Landscaping from El Paso to L.A. (2000) Wasowski, S. and A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2014-07-17
Research By: TWC Staff

Go back