Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Penstemon cobaea

with 26 comments

Penstemon cobaea Flowers and Buds 0426

Another thing I saw on April 19th along US 183 in Burnet County was this Penstemon cobaea, called wild foxglove, prairie penstemon, and large-flowered beard-tongue (among other things). This species is fairly common in central Texas, but somehow today is the first time I’ve shown it in these pages. In a reversal of what you’d expect, you got to see a penstemon from west Texas before the one that’s native in Austin.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 23, 2014 at 5:48 AM

26 Responses

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  1. Wunderschön ❤


    May 23, 2014 at 5:57 AM

  2. I really like this, Steve. I think the clouds complement the soft pastel tones of the bloom quite well. Not as strong a contrast as with a deep blue sky but very pleasing.

    Steve Gingold

    May 23, 2014 at 6:13 AM

    • I appreciate your observation about the pastel sky versus the deep blue ones I often show. I take what I can get. When I took the pictures of the penstemon at Monahans last month, I had a heavily overcast sky, so this was in between the extremes.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 23, 2014 at 6:41 AM

  3. Painterly and regal.


    May 23, 2014 at 6:26 AM

  4. And there are clouds in the sky! (Rather a silly comment…where else would they be?!)


    May 23, 2014 at 6:31 AM

    • I too have found myself at times writing about clouds in the sky, and like you I’ve realized the redundancy in saying it that way. Still, if you’re looking for a justification, you can point to the fact that sometimes clouds are found elsewhere: when they come down to the ground we stop talking about clouds and start talking about fog.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 23, 2014 at 7:02 AM

  5. Lovely, lovely, lovely.


    May 23, 2014 at 6:35 AM

    • Good morning, Bente (though it’s afternoon in Norway now). I’m pleased that you find this penstemon triply lovely.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 23, 2014 at 7:08 AM

  6. I assume very deadly, also? I love Foxglove, and planted some in my garden, only to learn that the plant is so toxic to toddlers that a single eaten blossom could kill them (at least the northeast variety that I had). I ripped them out in a flash….but they are beautiful from a distance.

    Marcia Levy

    May 23, 2014 at 6:44 AM

    • I did some looking just now but couldn’t find a statement one way or the other about the toxicity of this species. I understand your grandmotherly caution in ripping out the foxgloves you’d planted.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 23, 2014 at 7:15 AM

  7. So soft colours, it’s a beauty. And as always your pictures are like painting. I love the name of foxglove..!!


    May 23, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    • Hello, Chantal. Someone certainly had a vivid imagination in making up the name foxglove, which I don’t understand. Regardless, the colors of this species are indeed soft and lend themselves to a painterly approach.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 23, 2014 at 5:25 PM

  8. Very nice picture!


    May 23, 2014 at 12:31 PM

  9. Very nice shot!


    May 23, 2014 at 9:43 PM

    • I seem to be two for two for the recent penstemon pictures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 23, 2014 at 9:45 PM

      • You sure are! I’ve found them to be difficult subjects.


        May 23, 2014 at 9:51 PM

        • Difficult indeed: there’s a lot of interesting detail inside each flower, but the tubular shape makes it hard to get different parts of the inside in focus simultaneously. For end-on closeups I’ve sometimes used flash and stopped my macro lens down to one of its smallest apertures.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 23, 2014 at 10:13 PM

  10. I found myself as interested in the leaves as the flower at first glance. The phrase that came to mind was “saw-toothed.” “Beard tongue” is just as good, and far more amusing. I thought it might be based only on the shape, but then I remembered how rough a kitty’s tongue can be. Perhaps experiences with felines got caught up in this flower’s common name.


    May 25, 2014 at 9:54 AM

    • One of the things I like about this picture is that it shows off the leaves so well. As for their margins, I’d say “saw-toothed” is a good way to describe them. The word “dentate” also popped into my head.

      The word “penstemon” means ‘five stamens,’ and one of the five in this species has bristly hairs along much of its length. That bristly stamen is the bearded tongue of the common name, so in this case I think no kitties need apply. In contrast, some prickly plants are known as cat’s claw.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 25, 2014 at 10:20 AM

  11. This, like the other penstemon, which I was pleased you linked here to see them as a pair, is another that looks like a fine botanical illustration. Really lovely.

    Susan Scheid

    June 1, 2014 at 4:34 PM

    • Thanks, Susan. I’ll have another penstemon coming up in a few weeks, one I’d never seen before.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 1, 2014 at 6:38 PM

  12. […] of months you’ve seen two species in the genus Penstemon: P. buckleyi from west Texas and P. cobaea from a little northwest of Austin. Now joining them from Bastrop State Park is Penstemon […]

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