Beardtongue                                          Photograph by K. Breault

Penstemon  or Beard-tongue, is a large genus of North American plants.

In some Penstemons, the staminode, which is typically a long, straight filament that extends to the mouth of the corolla, may be longer and extremely hairy.  This may give the general appearance of an open mouth with a fuzzy tongue protruding, which has led to the common name “Beardtongue”.

Native Americans long used penstemon roots to relieve toothache.


Identification Tips
•Family: Figwort (Scrophulariaceae)
•Habitat: Open woods
•Soil Conditions: Loamy, moist soils
•Plant Height: Up to 120 cm
•Flower size: 1 inch long
•Flower Cluster Type: Terminal Cluster
•Flower color: White, often tinted with purple
•Flowering time: May to July
•Leaf Shape: Oblong or lanceolate, toothed
•Leaf size: Up to 15 cm long
•Leaf Arrangement: Opposite
•Other Identifiers: Smooth stem


Collection Information
•Collection Period: August-October
•Ripeness Indicator: Seed heads are light brown and split open, seed is black
•Seed Description: Tiny, black, like grains of pepper
•Collection Methods: Cut seed heads off of the plant, place inverted in a bag