Penstemon deustus is in section Penstemon subsection Deusti. Three species belong to this subsection: P. deustus, P. sudans, and P. tracyi. Penstemon deustus has four varieties (deustus, pedicellatus, suffrutescens, and variabilis). Today’s feature is of var. deustus, which I photographed at the 2013 American Penstemon Society meeting in Idaho.
Common names for P. deustus includes Hot Rock Penstemon, Scorched Penstemon, and Scabland Penstemon. The specific epithet “deustus” translates to “scorched,” which should give you a good idea of the type of habitat this species prefers. You typically find P. deustus in hot, dry, and rocky places, quite often directly growing on a rock outcrop. It’s very robust in arid environments, and can be quite beautiful when a large population is in bloom in an otherwise barren landscape.
Penstemon deustus var. deustus is found primarily in the Pacific Northwest, but also occurs in parts of Montana and Wyoming. The populations I photographed in June 2013 were from central Idaho, just north of Boise.
For more information about this lovely species, check out the American Penstemon Society resources for Penstemon deustus