Wax-leaved Penstemon
Penstemon nitidus Dougl. ex Benth.
Family: Scrophulariaceae, Figwort
Genus: Penstemon
Other names: shining beardtongue
Nomenclature: nitidus = shining, bright, polished
Nativity / Invasiveness: Montana native plant
No edibility data
No medicinal data

General: perennial, commonly with several rather stout stems arising from a short, branched base and a branching taproot, mostly 10-30 cm tall, wholly hairless, the herbage with a bluish, waxy coating.

Leaves: thick and firm, entire, the basal ones tufted, oblanceolate or broader, stalked, up to about 10 cm long and 2.5 cm wide. Stem leaves opposite, mostly stalkless or nearly so, narrow or broad.

Flowers: numerous in whorls in a dense, elongated cluster, the bracts at the whorl bases broad or narrow, depending on variety. Corolla bright blue, mostly 13-18 mm long, the tube expanded farther out. Pollen sacs essentially hairless, opening all the way and becoming opposite, 0.8-1.2 mm long. Staminode slightly protruding, prominently yellow-bearded for 2-4 mm toward the evidently expanded tip, the hairs mostly 0.5-1.0 mm long, sometimes longer. May-July.

Fruits: capsules, 9-12 mm long with many seeds, the seeds about 3 mm long.


Open, often grassy hillsides and plains, occasionally up to moderate elevations in the mountains, where sometimes occurring on talus, in most parts of MT. Also from s.w. Alberta to ID, n. WY and w. ND.
var. polyphyllus:
Sub taxa:

var. nitidus Dougl. ex Benth.:
Leaves and bracts mostly broader, the bracts mostly clasping and ovate to almost round. Calyx mostly 3-6 mm long at flowering. Corolla generally hairless.

var. polyphyllus (Pennell) Cronq.:
Leaves and bracts relatively narrow, the bracts mostly lanceolate or lance-ovate. Calyx mostly 5-8 mm long at flowering. Corolla generally with a few long hairs near the base of the lower lip within.

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