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Penstemon neomexicanus
(New Mexico beardtongue)

[taxon report][distribution map][all photos][line drawing]



Family: Scrophulariaceae

Scientific Name: Penstemon neomexicanus Wooton & Standley

Synonyms: None

Vernacular Name: New Mexico beardtongue

R-E-D Code: 1-1-2

Description: Plants perennial, glabrous; stems stout, 3-6 dm tall; leaves opposite, basal usually withered at flowering time, stem leaves narrowly lanceolate; inflorescence one-sided, narrow, not glandular; calyx lobes lanceolate, 4-8 mm long; corolla blue, purple, or violet-blue, 26-34 mm long, markedly expanded, 10-17 mm wide, base of lower lobes densely white-bearded; stamens completely dehiscent but not explanate; staminode glabrous, tip dilated. Flowers July and August.

Similar Species: Penstemon virgatus is very similar but has smaller flowers (17-28 mm long, 7-10 mm wide), shorter sepals (2-4 mm), the base of the lower corolla lobes is glabrous or only lightly bearded. It is distributed north of the range of P. neomexicanus.


Distribution: New Mexico, Lincoln and Otero counties, Capitan and Sacramento mountains; Mexico, Chihuahua.

Habitat: Wooded slopes or open glades in ponderosa pine or spruce/fir forests; 1,830-2,750 m (6,000-9,000 ft).

Remarks: This plant is locally common in the Sacramento Mountains, where it is perhaps the most frequently encountered beardtongue. A specimen at NMC from near Colonia Garcia, Chihuahua, collected in 1899, is clearly Penstemon neomexicanus. This Mexican specimen is very unusual; there are no more recent collections. The larvae of the rare endemic Sacramento Mountains checkerspot butterfly (Occidryas anicia cloudcrofti) are apparently dependent on P. neomexicanus for food.

Conservation Considerations: This plant is locally common and there are no significant threats from current land uses.

This plant is being grown at the Rio Grande Botanic Garden in Albuquerque for display, public education, research, and conservation of the wild populations.

Important Literature (*Illustration):

Crosswhite, F.S. 1967. Revision of Penstemon section Habroanthus (Scrophulariaceae). American Midland Naturalist 77:1-41.

*Heflin, J. 1997. Penstemons: The beautiful beardtongues of New Mexico. Jackrabbit Press, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

*New Mexico Native Plants Protection Advisory Committee. 1984. A handbook of rare and endemic plants of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.

Nisbet, G.T. and R.C. Jackson. 1960. The genus Penstemon in New Mexico. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 41(5):691-759.

Wooton, E.O. and P.C. Standley. 1913. Descriptions of new plants preliminary to a report upon the flora of New Mexico. Contributions from the U.S. National Herbarium 16:109-196.

Information Compiled By: David Bleakly, 1999

Agency Status:
Taxon USFWS State of NM USFS BLM Navajo Nation Natural Heritage NM Global Rank
Penstemon neomexicanusSoCSoC...S4G4


Photo credits in header Peniocereus greggii var. greggii © T. Todsen,
Lepidospartum burgessii © M. Howard, Argemone pleiacantha ssp. pinnatisecta © R. Sivinski
©2005 New Mexico Rare Plant Technical Council