Parachute Penstemon (Penstemon debilis) in the Penstemons Database

Common names:
Give a thumbs up Beard Tongue
Give a thumbs up Parachute beardtongue
Give a thumbs up Parachute Penstemon
Give a thumbs up Pride of the Mountain
Give a thumbs up Penstemon

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Herb/Forb
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 3 -40 °C (-40 °F) to -37.2 °C (-35)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 7b
Plant Height: 6 - 12 inches
Plant Spread: 6 - 12 inches
Leaves: Unusual foliage color
Flowers: Showy
Flower Color: Pink
Bloom Size: Under 1"
Underground structures: Taproot
Suitable Locations: Xeriscapic
Alpine Gardening
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Miscellaneous: Endangered: Listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act


Photo gallery:

Posted by SongofJoy (Clarksville, TN - Zone 6b) on Nov 10, 2012 7:51 AM

Penstemon debilis was discovered in 1986. P. debilis is a mat-forming perennial herb with thick, succulent, bluish leaves, each about 0.8 in. (2 cm) long and 0.4 in. (1 cm) wide. Plants produce shoots that run along underground, forming what appear as new plants at short distances away. Individual P. debilis plants are able to survive on the steep, unstable, shale slopes by responding with stem elongation as leaves are buried by the shifting talus. Buried stems progressively elongate down slope from the initial point of rooting to a surface sufficiently stable to allow the development of a tuft of leaves and flowers (O’Kane and Anderson 1987, pp. 414–415). The funnel-shaped flowers are white to pale lavender, and bloom during June and July. P. debilis plants produce a small number of seeds that are dispersed by gravity.

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Posted by Marilyn (Northern KY - Zone 6a) on May 30, 2013 12:38 AM

"Penstemon debilis, Parachute Penstemon or Parachute beardtongue, is one of the rarest plants in North America, found only 5 places in the world, all of them located on the Roan Plateau in Garfield County, of Western Colorado. The Denver Botanic Gardens has the Parachute Penstemon on display with other native plants of the Roan Plateau. The name Parachute comes from the small town in Colorado, Parachute, Colorado, close to where the plant can be found.

The plant is small and low to the ground. It has small green leaves and pale light-lavender flowers. It grows in steep slopes on shale, where little vegetation grows. The area is very arid and has sparse vegetation, containing sages, grasses and bushes.

The Parachute Penstemon has been identified to qualify for protection under the Endangered Species Act by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, but failed to be protected, due to large amounts of natural gas in the area. In 2004, the Center for Native Ecosystems, along with the Colorado Native Plant Society and two independent botanists formally requested protection. On July 27, 2011, the plant was federally listed as a threatened species of the United States, a ruling which is to take effect on August 26, 2011."

Taken from wikipedia's page at:

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