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Penstemon moffatii was named in 1893 by Alice Eastwood, in honor of David E. Moffat. Mr. Moffat was a former president of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad and, according to the Intermountain Flora description [1], hospitable to Miss Eastwood.

I recently collected this species in Utah, while on a three-week field trip with Mike Stevens (Brigham Young University) and Paul Blischak, my summer graduate research associate for the Penstemon project. It’s a gorgeous species, occurring in sandy and gravelly substrates. We found it in an outcrop of shale, along the side of a road.

The plant occurs in small clumps with flowering stems around 30 cm (12 inches) tall. The leaves and stems have retrorse (backward-facing) hairs. The leaves are sparsely dotted with them, or sometimes glabrous. The stems have a bit more pubescence – especially toward the inflorescence. The effect is a gray-green cast to the foliage.

This species is found in central to eastern Utah and western Colorado between 1280 – 1798 m (4200 – 5900 ft). It is in subgenus Penstemon section Cristati, and is one of the species that has toothed sutures along the anther openings.

Here are some photos of this charming little species:

ADW 1443, Penstemon moffatii in shale with junipers and pines.

ADW 1443, Penstemon moffatii in shale with junipers and pines.

ADW 1443: Penstemon moffatii occurs in shale in small clumps. The thick leaves are entire and slightly keeled, dotted with very short hairs. The inflorescence is glandular hairy.

ADW 1443: Penstemon moffatii occurs in shale in small clumps. The thick leaves are entire and slightly keeled, dotted with very short hairs. The inflorescence is glandular hairy.

ADW 1443: Penstemon moffatii calyx sepals are acuminate and covered in glandular hairs.

ADW 1443: Penstemon moffatii calyx sepals are acuminate and covered in glandular hairs.

ADW 1443: Penstemon moffatii inflorescence is glandular and mostly secund. The flowers have magenta nectar guides. The staminode is densely bearded with long yellow hairs. The gip of the staminode is slightly forked.

ADW 1443: Penstemon moffatii inflorescence is glandular and mostly secund. The flowers have magenta nectar guides. The staminode is densely bearded with long yellow hairs. The gip of the staminode is slightly forked.

ADW 1443: Penstemon moffatii staminode is densely bearded with long yellow hairs. The gip of the staminode is slightly forked.

ADW 1443: Penstemon moffatii staminode is densely bearded with long yellow hairs. The gip of the staminode is slightly forked.

ADW 1443: Penstemon moffatii corolla lobes are rounded and slightly flattened in the center. The lobes project slightly forward. The lower part of the corolla is slightly ampliate (expanded), without ridges.

ADW 1443: Penstemon moffatii corolla lobes are rounded and slightly flattened in the center. The lobes project slightly forward. The lower part of the corolla is slightly ampliate (expanded), without ridges.

ADW 1443: Penstemon moffatii leaves are somewhat succulent, entire, slightly keeled, and sparsely covered in very short hairs. The hairs on the stems are angled downwards.

ADW 1443: Penstemon moffatii leaves are somewhat succulent, entire, slightly keeled, and sparsely covered in very short hairs. The hairs on the stems are angled downwards.

ADW 1443: Penstemon moffatii flowers have a prominent ridge running along the top. The inflorescence is covered in glandular hairs. The red color of the sepals is rather unusual for Penstemon.

ADW 1443: Penstemon moffatii flowers have a prominent ridge running along the top. The inflorescence is covered in glandular hairs. The red color of the sepals is rather unusual for Penstemon.

ADW 1443: Penstemon moffatii occurs in shale in small clumps. The thick leaves are entire and slightly keeled, dotted with very short hairs. The inflorescence is glandular hairy.

ADW 1443: Penstemon moffatii occurs in shale in small clumps. The thick leaves are entire and slightly keeled, dotted with very short hairs. The inflorescence is glandular hairy.

ADW 1443: Penstemon moffatii leaves are somewhat succulent, entire, slightly keeled, and sparsely covered in very short hairs. The hairs on the stems are angled downwards.

ADW 1443: Penstemon moffatii leaves are somewhat succulent, entire, slightly keeled, and sparsely covered in very short hairs. The hairs on the stems are angled downwards.

ADW 1443: Penstemon moffatii occurs in shale in small clumps. The clump is subtended by a woody caudex, and the roots are woody as well.

ADW 1443: Penstemon moffatii occurs in shale in small clumps. The clump is subtended by a woody caudex, and the roots are woody as well.

ADW 1443: Penstemon moffatii anthers dehisce across the connective.

ADW 1443: Penstemon moffatii anthers dehisce across the connective.

Check out the data available in SEINet for herbarium specimens and a distribution map.

References cited

Holmgren NH 1984. Penstemon. In: Intermountain flora: vascular plants of the Intermountain West, U.S.A. Vol. 4 [Cronquist A, Holmgren AH, Holmgren NH, Reveal JL, Holmgren PK, editors], New York Botanical Garden, NY. pp 370-457.

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