The Sonoran Desert Florilegium

plants of the florilegium

Penstemon parryi
Parry's penstemon

FAMILY:  Scrophulariaceae — Figwort family

OTHER COMMON NAMES:  Parry's beardtongue

ETYMOLOGY:  The name of the genus Penstemon derives from two Greek words, pente, or "five", and stemon, or "stamen". This combination describes the five stamens of plants in the genus, which are notable for their fifth, sterile stamen called a staminode.

The species name honors Charles Christopher Parry (1823-1890), a physician and botanist who served as a member of the U.S.-Mexico Boundary Survey and the Pacific Railroad Survey along the 35th parallel. He was one of the most respected botanists of his time.

DESCRIPTION:  The showy rose-magenta flowers of Parry's penstemon grow in various sized clusters along the flower stalk of this short-lived perennial. The flowers begin blooming on the stalk from the bottom upward. At the base of the stalk is a rosette of narrowly triangular bluish green leaves.

The spring flowering season can begin as early as February. Hummingbirds and bees as well as other insects are attracted to the funnel-shaped flowers. Parry's penstemon is among the many penstemons occurring in the southwestern United States, growing mostly in the Sonoran Desert region in Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. It is found on rocky slopes and in washes and desert shrub.