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Foxglove Penstemon

Common Name: Foxglove Penstemon.

Scientific Name: Penstemon Digitalis.

What to look for?  Multitude of white trumpet-shaped flowers! In addition to the tubular shape, the white flowers of the Foxglove Penstemon occur in a panicle at the top of each flowering stem. Each corolla or petal has five lobes with three lobes on a lower lip and and two lobes on an upper lip. There are thin violet lines within the corolla, which guide visiting insects to the nectar. This perennial plant consists of one or more rosettes or clusters of medium green leaves in a circular pattern.

Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? From late spring and through early summer, you can find the Foxglove Penstemon in bloom scattered around the walking path going north along Carillon Stonegate Ponds and the fields adjacent to the woodlands.

How big are they? Foxglove Penstemon grow to as much as three feet tall. The leaves are up to six inches long and just wider than two inches. Each tubular flower is about one inch long.

Where do they grow and thrive? The Foxglove Penstemon is native to the continental U.S. and is fairly common across most of Illinois. Habitats include low, moist areas, including prairies, openings in upland and floodplain forests, woodland borders, thickets, savannas, pastures, and abandoned fields. In Illinois, the Foxglove Penstemon is found in woods and thickets across the state.

When do they bloom? The blooming period of the Foxglove Penstemon occurs during late spring into early summer and the lasts for about a month.

Do birds, insects or other wildlife associate with this plant? The white tubular flowers of the Foxglove Penstemon attract long-tongued bees such as honeybees and bumblebees. On occasion, butterflies, certain moths, and hummingbirds may visit the flowers.

Interesting Facts About the Foxglove Penstemon:

  • While the white, trumpet-shaped flowers are lovely to view, the Foxglove Penstemon has no floral scent.

  • The Genus name comes from the Greek words “penta” meaning five and “stemon” meaning stamen in reference to each flower having five stamens (four are fertile and one is sterile).

  • The Foxglove Penstemon is sometimes commonly called “beard tongue” because the sterile stamen has a tuft of small hairs.

For more information on the Foxglove Penstemon and sources of information used in this blog (these are several of the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit Illinois Wildflowers, University of Texas Wildflower Center, Missouri Botanical Garden, and Minnesota Wildflowers.

The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.


Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!

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