There are about 70 different species of penstemons in Utah, and this
one looks very similar to many of the others. It was found growing along
the side of a dry dusty road in a pinyon/juniper forest, with rabbitbrush
and sagebrush growing nearby.
The leaves are quite thick and fleshy.
The Latin species name pachyphyllus means "thick leaf".
This is probably an adaptation for the dry climate here.
Most members of the Figwort Family have four stamens.
Penstemons have five, but one of them is sterile and
does not produce any pollen. It is called a "staminode".
Often it is covered with hairs and protrudes
from the mouth of the flower, resembling a "bearded tongue".
Its purpose is probably to attract insects.
by Sandra Bray
Government Creek Cove
Wayne County, Utah