Thickleaf Penstemon

Genus Penstemon
Figwort Family (Scrophulariaceae)

Thickleaf Penstemon

Thickleaf Penstemon
Penstemon pachyphyllus

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.

Penstemon blossoms

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.