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Penstemon digitalis (photographed at Blendon Woods Metro Park)

Penstemon digitalis (photographed at Blendon Woods Metro Park)

Penstemon digitalis is a member of Penstemon section Penstemon subsection Penstemon, or P3 for short. It’s one of seven species found in Ohio.  This species is a polyploid, having 12 sets of chromosomes (2n = 96) – i.e., a dodecaploid!. Most species of Penstemon are diploid with 2n = 16. The species blooms in Ohio during May and June, sometimes into July. The flowers are very showy, and the plant grows up to five feet in height, but mostly we see plants that are between three to four feet tall in Ohio.

Penstemon digitalis can be found along streams, ponds, and in open woodlands, meadows and fields. It’s one of the species that does well in soils that retain some moisture.

The common name of this species is Foxglove Penstemon. There are several beautiful cultivars appropriate for gardens, including ‘Husker Red’, ‘White Queen’, ‘Lavender Queen’, and ‘Pink Dawn’. You should be able to find one or more of these cultivars at a nursery selling perennial plants.

Penstemon digitalis, growing along the Olentangy River bike path near Ohio State University

Penstemon digitalis, growing along the Olentangy River bike path near Ohio State University. Photo by Andi Wolfe ©2013.

The staminode is lightly bearded in P. digitalis.

The staminode is lightly bearded in P. digitalis. Photo by Andi Wolfe ©2013.

Honeybees were all over the Penstemon digitalis plants.

Honeybees were all over the Penstemon digitalis plants. Photo by Andi Wolfe ©2013.

Correction from Randy Mitchell on the identification of this bee: wool carder bee (Anthidium manicatum). Thanks, Randy!

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