Penstemon smallii Heller - Small's Beard Tongue

Penstemon smallii plant

Family - Scrophulariaceae


Penstemon smallii stemUpper stem.


Penstemon smallii leavesPressed leaves.




Penstemon smallii calyxCalyx.

Penstemon smallii flower

Penstemon smallii flower

Flowering - May - June.

Habitat - Cliff banks, shaded forest edges.

Origin - Native to North America.

Other information - This species is rare in Alabama and has only been reported in two northern counties. The plant can be identified by its big, cordate leaves, and light purple flowers. The leaves are dentate on the margins and stay essentially the same size all the way up the stem and into the inflorescence.
The genus name Penstemon derives from the Greek "pent" meaning "five" and "stem(a)" meaning "a thread, stamen" referring to the 4 stamens plus the one staminode.
The species epithet smallii is given in honor of John Kunkel Small (1869 - 1938). Small was one of the premier southeastern U.S. botanists (even though he lived in New York and worked at the New York Botanical Garden until his death). He was one of the first botanists to explore the state of Florida. His first trip was in 1901 and he returned many times for the next 37 years. Small noted the devastation of the south Florida region in his book From Eden to Sahara - Florida's Tragedy. His most famous work is Manual of the Southeastern Flora which is to this day a mandatory reference for anyone studying the flora of the region.

Alabama Distribution:

Penstemon smallii map

Photographs taken in Linville, NC., 5-11-03.

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