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Penstemon Species

Photos by Mikel Stevens
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Interest is increasing in drought tolerant landscape plants due to water shortages experienced by many municipalities, especially in the Southwestern US. However, the increased use of drought tolerant species also carries concerns regarding the introduction of non-native and potentially invasive species. One way to address both issues is to landscape with native xeric flora. Penstemon Mitchell (Plantaginaceae) has excellent potential for xeric landscapes and some Penstemon cultivars, adapted to mild climates, are already used throughout Europe as landscape plants. Despite its potential, few Penstemon cultivars are used in xeric landscapes and there has been little to no drought or cold tolerant cultivar development for such landscapes. Penstemon, with over 270 species, is one of the largest and most diverse plant genera of those that are strictly indigenous to North and Central America. This genus features a deep diversity in morphology, including a broad assortment of colors, flowers, and leaf structures. Penstemon’s putative center of origin is the arid Intermountain West of the United Statesand has frequently been discussed as an untapped resource for xeric landscape cultivar development. Because domestication and cultivar development, of any species, is slow, costly, and time consuming, few in the landscape industry have invested in native species breeding.

More on Penstemon

Pentstemon Research Publications

For additional information regarding our Penstemon research contact Dr. Mikel Stevens (BYU).

Anderson CD, Ricks NJ, Farley KM, Maughan PJ, Stevens MR (2016)Identification and Characterization of Microsatellite Markers in Penstemon scariosus (Plantaginaceae).Applications in Plant Sciences 4(3):1500105. 2016

Dockter RB, Elzinga DB, Geary BD, Maughan PJ, Johnson LA, Tumbleson D, Franke J, Dockter K, Stevens MR. Developing molecular tools and insights into the Penstemon genome using genomic reduction and next-generation sequencing. BMC Genetics. 2013 Aug;14(66):1-12.

Stevens MR, Love S, Stevens MR. Penstemon Spotlight – Penstemon atwoodii. Bulletin of the American Penstemon Society. 2012 Apr;71:2-6.

Stevens MR, Geary BD, Dockter RB, Dockter KG, Broderick SR, Daley SL, Love SL. Identifying germplasm for breeding native Intermountain drought tolerant flowers. Report of the Intermountain Native Plants Cooperative. 2011 May;2:44-48.

Broderick SR, Stevens MR, Geary BD, Love SL, Jellen EN, Dockter RB, Dailey SL, Lindgren DT. A survey of Penstemon’s genome size. Genome. 2011 Feb;54(2):160-173.