E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Penstemon fruticosus (Pursh) Greene
shrubby penstemon (bush penstemon)
Plantaginaceae (Mare's-tail family)
(Previously in Scrophulariaceae)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Virginia Skilton  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #7049)

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Distribution of Penstemon fruticosus
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Species Information

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Low shrubs or sub-shrubs, 15-40 cm tall; stems much-branched, ascending to erect, often reddish and brittle, smooth to minutely hairy on new growth and glandular-hairy in the inflorescence.
Mostly opposite, more or less evergreen, smooth, primary leaves tending to be concentrated toward the base and on short sterile shoots, short-stalked, the blades linear to broadly lanceolate, toothed or entire, 1-6 cm long; leaves of the flowering shoots reduced and less crowded.
Inflorescence a short, bracted, terminal raceme of a few pairs of stalked flowers, the stalks hairy; corollas blue-lavender to light purple, tubular, 2.5-5 cm long, distinctly 2-lipped, smooth on the outside, long-white-hairy within on the lower lip near its base and on a pair of ridges; calyces 7-15 mm long, hairy, 5-lobed, the lobes lance-linear to narrowly egg-shaped; fertile stamens 4, the anthers densely white-woolly; sterile stamen shorter than the fertile stamens, long-yellow-bearded toward the tip.
Capsules, 8-12 mm long; seeds numerous, angled, narrowly winged, 1-2 mm long.
Two sympatric varieties occur in BC.

1. Leaves entire or slightly fine-toothed, relatively broad, 2-7 times as long as wide; corollas 2.5-4 cm long....................var. fruticosus

1. Leaves more or less toothed or sometimes entire, relatively narrow, 6-10 times as long as wide; corollas 3.5-5 cm long....................var. scouleri (Lindl.) Cronq.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Mid Spring
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present from Spring to Summer
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Mesic to dry rocky hillsides and open forests in the steppe to alpine zones; common in S BC in and east of the Coast-Cascade Mountains and south of 53degreeN; S to MT, WY and OR.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Penstemon fruticosus

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 184 1203 2635
Slope Gradient (%) 0 46 170
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
3 191 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 1 7
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: AT(5), BAFA(1), BG(12), BWBS(1), CWH(1), ESSF(156), ICH(92), IDF(412), IMA(4), MS(175), PP(86), SBPS(6), SBS(2), SWB(1)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is cool temperate & cool semiarid.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References