Penstemon fruticosus

My apologies for being so late with today’s entry — I had a grant application deadline to meet.

One bit of housekeeping before the write-up. If you are a student studying botany (or a related field) at UBC, please consider the Botany Photo of the Day Assistant work study position for this upcoming school year! Or, if you know a UBC student studying something related, please let him or her know about the posting. Thanks!

Not all hymenopteran pollinators are bees, though they get most of the glory. Hornets can also play a role in pollination, as in the case of this critter pollinating the shrubby penstemon. Ingrid Hoff, the garden’s horticultural manager, identified this hornet a few years ago, but I can’t recall if she said it was a blackjacket or a baldfaced hornet. I suspect it’s a male of the latter, despite the fact that it has more white markings than usual. Since I’ve been stung more times by hornets than bees, I recall not wanting to get any closer for the photograph with my point-and-shoot camera (this was in June 4 years ago). I do remember being fascinated by how the segments of the abdomen seemed to pulsate.

Penstemon fruticosus is a widespread subshrub native to central western North America. It is commonly found in dry and warm well-draining sites from low to subalpine elevations. A particularly floriferous selection was introduced to the nursery trade by UBC Botanical Garden in the 1980s / 1990s called Penstemon fruticosus ‘Purple Haze’, a clump of which can still be found in some ornamental plantings near the BC temperate coastal garden.

According to Plants of Southern Interior British Columbia, Penstemon fruticosus was used by First Nations peoples for dye (for baskets), flavouring (for pit-cooked vegetables) and a set of medicines.

Penstemon fruticosus
Penstemon fruticosus

9 responses to “Penstemon fruticosus”

  1. Meg Bernstein

    He fits so perfectly. Maybe this means the association has gone on for a very long time. Thanks again for the pollinator series.

  2. SandyinZ4

    No apologies necessary. What you do to treat all of us in the far lands of the internet with these wonderful photos and descriptions is simply wonderful. I know it is a highlight of my morning when I look at them. Thanks again for all you do.

  3. bev

    I’ve been away for several days and wasn’t aware of the pollinator series, but it’s great! The cited article on hummingbirds was especially illuminating for this old bio major. Thanks again, Daniel, for keeping us “eddicated” despite your busy schedule. I hope you find another helper. Are there any volunteers knowledgable enough to help with the job? Just a thought.

  4. phillip

    …it’s most unusual…but i have not seen one (1) honey bee this season….i know what they look like…because i used to raise them !
    also..since we’re posting jobs…if you know of a good dishwasher…send them my way…LOL..!

  5. shelagh lindsey

    Thank you for the opportunity to join this special service.

  6. shelagh lindsey

    Will you be posting flowers available in the shop for purchase? thank you sl

  7. Daniel Mosquin

    Shelagh, that happens occasionally (primarily leading up to plant sales), but I generally don’t use BPotD to market the garden that way. Encouraging people to visit, sure, but only rarely for specific items to purchase.

  8. NevadaJay

    You are wise to give this little critter (a bald-face hornet) plenty of room. Supposedly only 6 stings are sufficient to kill you, assuming that you aren’t hypersensitive (allergic) to it… then it takes only one sting!
    Gorgeous penstemon and it is a marvel that it fits so snugly… almost like Mother Nature’s provided a custom fit.

  9. Scott McGillivray

    nature always reminds us that survival is not just by chance…h’mmmm perhaps there is something to that whole evolution thing…

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