Menzies’ penstemon or Menzies’ beardtongue is native to British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. Despite growing in rocky, well-draining soils, plants can be spectacularly floriferous as shown in today’s photograph.
Mat-forming, this woody evergreen shrub rarely exceeds 10cm (3 in.) in height. Its sibling varieties, including Penstemon davidsonii var. davidsonii, are similar in stature. These two varieties have overlapping ranges (i.e., they are sympatric), but variety davidsonii can also be found further south into California and Nevada. Leaf characteristics can help distinguish these two varieties from one another: minutely-toothed leaves that are broader near or below the middle is var. menziesii, while generally entire leaves broader above the middle is var. davidsonii. Hybridization can occur among penstemons, and particularly so among sympatric infraspecific taxa; this is perhaps the origin of “poorly-defined varieties” in the Illustrated Flora of British Columbia key (available via eFlora BC: Penstemon davidsonii). A careful eye may also note that the labeled illustrations on that page (scans from the Ill’d Flora) have the names reversed.
Additional photographs are available via the Burke Herbarium Image Collection.