In the spring on 2020 I was photographing along the Morning Star Mine Road, we happened upon Palmers Penstemon ( penstemon palmeri ). This species is the most surprising and beautiful wild flowers I have seen in the Mojave Desert.
Palmer’s Penstemon is a member of the figwort family of plants. Figworts are characterized by square stems, opposing leaves and open two-lipped flowers which form clusters at the end of each stem. The specifies is also known as Palmer’s Beardtongue, Scented Penstemon, and Scented Beardtongue. Specimens are known to grow at elevations between 3,500 and 6,000 feet and thrive in sandy, well drained gravelly soils. They are a drought tolerant plant and will not do well in locations which received over 10 inches of rainfall each year.
Palmers Penstemon is a perennial species of herb and is typically between three and six feet tall. The flowers are white with pink or lavender hues and known to bloom in May through June depending on water. The flowers are delicate in appearance and very short lived. The corolla or petals are two-lipped with a two lobed upper lip and a lower lip will form with three lips. The blooms are known to attract the common pollinators including hummingbirds, butterfly’s, and bees.