Penstemon cardwellii (Cardwell's Penstemon)


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Plant Description: this penstemon has woody stems which grow 4-12 inches long and spread by layering, sometimes forming thick mats. Its opposite, basal leaves are attached to stems with short petioles (leafstalks) and are elliptic to oblong, measuring about 1 inch in length. Leaf margins can be either entire or irregularly serrated. Flowering stems grow 4-8 inches long and have smaller but broader leaves which lack petioles. Inflorescence is sparsely glandular and composed of a compact raceme. The flowers are few and only 1.5 inches long, but appear larger in relation to the minuscule size of the leaves and stems. The showy blue-violet to purple corolla is shaped as a tube and bears a wide, lobed mouth, from where long woolly anthers are projected outward.

  • Height: 4-12" 
  • Watering needs: moist to dry
  • Sun needs: full sun to light shade
  • Soil needs: well-drained
  • Bloom Time: may to early august, sometimes again in fall

Landscape Use and Ecological Function: This plant is found in volcanic pumice rock slopes, open woods or forest edges at moderate elevations. It is a native species of the Oregon Coastal Range and the Cascade Mountains, occurring from central Washington through Oregon. A large community has settled on volcanic rubble around Mount St. Helens, in the aftermath of the 1980 eruption.

The intense violet color of the flowers is perfect to brighten a partially shaded rock garden or dry bank. It looks beautiful year-round, even when not flowering.

*Photo by SevenOaks Nursery*

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