Penstemon digitalis (foxglove beard-tongue or penstemon) is related to snapdragons and foxgloves and is in the plantain family, Plantaginaceae. The flowers are white, borne in summer, while the early foliage is red. It is native to Eastern and Southeastern United States. It typically grows 3-5' tall and occurs in prairies, fields, wood margins, open woods and along railroad tracks. The white, two-lipped, tubular flowers (to 1.25" long) are borne in panicles above erect, rigid stems. The flowers bloom mid-spring to early summer. The basal leaves are elliptic and stem leaves are lance-shaped to oblong.
Penstemon in Greek means five stamens (four are fertile and one is sterile). Penstemon is sometimes commonly called beard tongue because the sterile stamen has a tuft of small hairs. The genus name comes from the Greek pente meaning five and stemon meaning stamen in reference to the flowers having five stamens. The specific epithet comes from the Latin digitus meaning finger for flowers that look like the finger of a glove.
It has no serious insect or disease problems. Root rot can occur in wet, poorly-drained soils. Leaf spots are occasional problems.
It looks good if massed in sunny borders, wild gardens, native plant gardens or naturalized areas.
We carry the purple-stemmed variety, Huskers Red and sometimes the straight species, as well.