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Penstemon mensarum

Penstemon mensarum

Penstemon mensarum

Penstemon mensarum

Penstemon mensarum (Mesa Penstemon)
Plantaginaceae (Plantain Family)

Montane, subalpine. Openings, woodlands. Summer. 
Above and left: Grand Mesa, July 11, 2017.

This robust Penstemon grows only in west-central Colorado, where, especially on Grand Mesa, it is common. Plants grow with one-to-several flowering stems that are up to three feet tall with dozens of blue to purple flowers.

Penstemon mensarum might be mistaken for Penstemon strictus but a careful look will show several significant differences:
1) P. mensarum is not secund, i.e., flowers do not grow just toward one side of the stem, as they do for P. strictus.
2) P. mensarum's flower tube gradually increases in size toward the flared lobes; P. strictus' tube bulges quickly and widely.
3) P. mensarum's calyx is glandular; P. strictus' calyx is glabrous.

           Penstemon mensarum

4) P. mensarum's corolla is glandular-hairy (see the gleaming glandular dots on the corollas above and in the second photograph at left); P. strictus' corolla is glabrous.
5) P. mensarum's sterile stamen (the "staminode") has an abundance of golden hairs (see the hairs on the bottom of the inside of the corolla in the third photograph at left); P. strictus' staminode is sparsely hairy or glabrous.

           Penstemon mensarum

Pennell named and described this species in 1920. The type specimen was collected by A. F. McDuffie of the U.S. Forest Service on July 15, 1912 at approximately 9,000' in Battlement National Forest (what is now Grand Mesa National Forest).

"Mensarum" is Latin for a "table", i.e., a "mesa".

Penstemon mensarum

Penstemon mensarum

Penstemon mensarum (Mesa Penstemon)
Plantaginaceae (Plantain Family)

Montane, subalpine. Openings, woodlands. Summer. 
Grand Mesa, July 11, 2017.

Stem leaves are sessile, opposite, glabrous, and typically ovate-lanceolate (as shown) to lanceolate to oblanceolate.

 

Basal leaves are in clusters of a half-dozen or so and are petiolate, glabrous, and elliptic to oblanceolate to oblong. Basal leaves wither (see lower right of the photograph) before the stem leaves do.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Penstemon mensarum

Range map for Penstemon mensarum