Broadbeard Beardtongue (Angustifolius)

The Broadbeard Beardtongue (Angustifolius) is generally described as a perennial subshrub or forb/herb. This is native to the U.S. (United States) has its most active growth period in the spring and summer . The Broadbeard Beardtongue (Angustifolius) has green foliage and inconspicuous white flowers, with an abuncance of conspicuous purple fruits or seeds. The greatest bloom is usually observed in the spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the summer and continuing until summer. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Broadbeard Beardtongue (Angustifolius) has a short life span relative to most other plant species and a rapid growth rate. At maturity, the typical Broadbeard Beardtongue (Angustifolius) will reach up to 3 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 3 feet.

The Broadbeard Beardtongue (Angustifolius) is not commonly available from nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by bare root, container, cuttings, seed. It has a rapid ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have high vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -28°F. has high tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Erosion control: Narrow leaf penstemon is a drought tolerant forb. It is helpful in preventing wind erosion on sandy dunes, plains and grasslands where it establishes.

Wildlife: Narrow leaf penstemon provides a food source to small birds and mammals. It is heavily used by hummingbirds and various insects during flowering.

Urban: Narrow leaf penstemon is a drought tolerant forb that also produces beautiful flowers in early spring. This makes it an ideal plant for xeriscaping.

General Characteristics

Penstemon angustifolius Nutt. ex. Pursh., narrow leaf penstemon, is native to various western and plains states. It is a stout, smooth, waxy, gray green perennial herb. The plant grows from 8 to 24 inches with several stout, erect or somewhat curving stems. The flowers range from ½ to ¾ inch and are various shades of violet and pink. Insect guidelines may or may not be present

Required Growing Conditions

Narrow leaf penstemon is found throughout the western and Great Plains states. It is adapted to sandy mesas and grasslands and is frequently found on dunes. It does poorly and is short lived when planted in heavy soils.

Narrow leaf penstemon is distributed throughout the United States.

Cultivation and Care

The seed of narrow leaf penstemon requires cold stratification for germination. Approximately 85% of the seed are dormant. Total germination averages above 90%. Field plantings of this seed should be done in the fall. Seeding should be at approximately 12 seed per foot. With adequate winter moisture or supplemental irrigation, stands are generally good.

General Upkeep and Control

After stand establishment, it is important to limit irrigation. In normal years with 8-10 inches of precipitation, no irrigation is necessary. Narrow leaf penstemon is extremely sensitive to root rot fungi and if overwatered the entire stand will be destroyed.

Although not necessary, narrow leaf penstemon responds well to fertilization. After establishment, it does not appear to be damaged by the use of pre-emergent herbicides. After harvest the plants soon become dormant and may then be mowed.

Cultivars, Improved, and Selected Materials (and area of origin) San Juan Germplasm narrowleaf penstemon (New Mexico) is a selected class (pre-varietal) release from the Los Lunas Plant Materials Center and the New Mexico State University Agricultural Science Center in Los Lunas, New Mexico. Seed may be obtained through the New Mexico Crop Improvement Association. The plant is adapted to areas with annual precipitation of 6 to 10 inches, and has a variety of purposes. It helps prevent erosion on the sandy dunes, plains, and grasslands where it establishes. The beautiful flowers it produces in the early spring make it useful for xeriscaping. The seed of narrowleaf penstemon provides a food source to small birds and mammals. The flowers are particularly important in providing early forage for honeybees. Hummingbirds and various insects also rely heavily on the flowers in the early spring.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Rapid
General Type Subshrub, Forb/herb
Growth Period Spring, Summer
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Short
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Commercial Availability No Known Source
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Spring
Displays Fall Colors Yes
Shape/Growth Form Single Stem
Drought Tolerance High
Shade Tolerance Intolerant
Height When Mature 3
Vegetative Spread Slow
Flower Color White
Flower Conspicuousness Yes
Fruit/Seed Abundance High
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Summer Summer
Seed Spread Rate Rapid
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Bare Root, Container, Cuttings, Seed
Moisture Requirements Low
Cold Stratification Required No
Minimum Temperature -28
Soil Depth for Roots 6
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Regrowth Rate Rapid
After-Harvest Resprout Ability Yes
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 7–8.5 pH
Precipitation Range 9–9 inches/yr
Planting Density 10000–30000 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Coarse, Fine, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 6
Minimum Frost-Free Days 160 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance None
CaCO3 Tolerance High
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Palatability Medium
Fire Resistant Yes
Causes Livestock Bloating None

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA