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

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© Virginia Skilton     (Photo ID #7049)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Penstemon fruticosus
Click here to view the full interactive map and legend

Species Information

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.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., separate illustrations were provided for two subspecies) then links to the separate images will be provided below. Note that individual subspecies or varietal illustrations are not always available.

USDA Species Characteristics

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


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)
1203 184 2635
Slope Gradient (%)
46 0 170

Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]

191 3 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
1 0 7
Modal Nutrient Regime
# 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)

Habitat and 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.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia