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Utah Penstemon (Penstemon utahensis)
Perennial Forbs Around Las Vegas, Vegetation Around Las Vegas
Utah Firecracker (Penstemon utahensis)

General: Utah Penstemon (Penstemon utahensis) is a perennial forb with a tuft of leaves on the ground and several knee-high, upright stems that bear red, tubular flowers. The flowers have five "petals" at the opening of the tube. The "petals" are actually asymmetrical lobes, with two lobes up and three lobes down. All of the lobes fold back slightly, and two of the four anthers, plus the staminode (looks like a filament without an anther), protrude slightly.

Around Las Vegas, compare with Firecracker Penstemon, but an aid to identifying Utah Penstemon is that the flowers tend to come off all sides of the stem and point in all directions.

Utah Penstemon is a fairly common component of desert vegetation communities in dry, well-drained gravelly areas in the lower mountains in the Upper Sonoran (Pinyon-Juniper Woodland) and Transition (Yellow Pine Forest) life zones. This species is fairly common on roadsides.

Utah Firecracker (Penstemon utahensis)

Family: Figwort (Scrophulariaceae). Recent genetic research suggests that Penstemon should be included in the Plantaginaceae.

Other Names: Utah Firecracker, Utah Beardtongue.

Plant Form: Several upright stems all arising from a tuft of leaves on the ground.

Height: Flowering stalk to about 18 inches.

Stems: Round.

Leaves: Lower leaves long, somewhat thickened, and generally folded lengthwise. Upper leaves on stem opposite, thick; 5 inches long, triangular, generally not clasping around the stem.

Utah Firecracker (Penstemon utahensis)

Flowers: Blooms late spring and early summer. Flower complex and bilaterally symmetrical; flower with 5 lobes, upper lip with 2-lobes, lower lip with 3, petals red to purple, sometimes with streaks.

Seeds: Fruit: oblong capsule. Seeds: small, black.

Habitat: Dry, well-drained sandy, gravelly, and rocky soils in the lower mountains.

Elevation: About 4,000 to 6,000 feet.

Distribution: Southern California desert mountains to Colorado and Arizona.

Comments: This is a fairly common species at Red Rock Canyon and on Mt. Charleston.

Utah Firecracker (Penstemon utahensis) Utah Firecracker (Penstemon utahensis)
Utah Firecracker (Penstemon utahensis) Utah Firecracker (Penstemon utahensis)
Utah Firecracker (Penstemon utahensis) Utah Firecracker (Penstemon utahensis)
Utah Firecracker (Penstemon utahensis) Utah Firecracker (Penstemon utahensis)
Utah Firecracker (Penstemon utahensis) Utah Firecracker (Penstemon utahensis)
Utah Firecracker (Penstemon utahensis) Utah Firecracker (Penstemon utahensis)
Utah Firecracker (Penstemon utahensis) Utah Firecracker (Penstemon utahensis)
Utah Firecracker (Penstemon utahensis) Utah Firecracker (Penstemon utahensis)
Utah Firecracker (Penstemon utahensis) Utah Firecracker (Penstemon utahensis)
Utah Firecracker (Penstemon utahensis)
Floral structure showing filaments, anthers, and staminode
Utah Firecracker (Penstemon utahensis)
Floral structure showing filaments, anthers, and staminode
Utah Firecracker (Penstemon utahensis)
Filaments, anthers, and staminode
Utah Firecracker (Penstemon utahensis)
Filaments, anthers with pollen, and staminode

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate. Names generally follow the USDA database.
copyright; Last updated 170919

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