Currently in bloom: the Purple Beard Tongue and Prairie Beard Tongue, (Penstemon cobaea and Penstemon tubaeflorus.) These flowers have four fertile stamens and one sterile stamen. They are commonly referred to as “Beard Tongue” because of the one sterile stamen having a tuft of small hairs. These are clump-forming plants with spikes of flowers that rise to about two (purple) and three (prairie) feet tall. Put them in full sun and dry soil and enjoy their blooms late spring/early summer. These plants are a good nectar source for hummingbirds and insects, including larger bees. Bumble bees are the primary pollinators.

About the author