Penstemon grahamii
Author: Keck

Graham beardtongue

Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)

Close up of Penstemon grahamii by Dave Elin
Click image to enlarge.

Close up of Penstemon grahamii by Dave Elin
Click image to enlarge.

Ranks and Status

Global rank: G2
State rank: S1
Federal protection status: BLM Sensitive
State protection status: None

[+] Description and Phenology

Artwork in progress by Carol Till. Please also see 1997 profile.

General description: Few-branched perennial herb to 2 dm in height from a tap-root. Leaves thick, entire, villous-glandular or glabrous, to 5 cm long and 18 mm wide. Basal leaves ovate spatulate or broadly oblanceolate, narrowed to a petiolar base. The opposite stem leaves lanceolate, sessile, and clasping. Flowers pinkish lavender with deep red guidelines in the throat. The inflorescence glandular-pubescent; the corolla 25 to 37 mm long; the golden yellow bearded staminode exserted.

Look Alikes: Distinguished from other sympatric Penstemon species by the large, pinkish-lavender corollas with dark violet lines in the throat; and exserted, golden-yellow bearded staminode (Spackman et al. 1997).

Phenology: Flowers from late May to early June (Spackman et al. 1997).

[+] Habitat

Habitat of Penstemon grahamii by Dave Elin
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Talus slopes and knolls of Green River Formation shales in sparsely vegetated desert shrub and pinyon-juniper communities (Spackman et al. 1997), Common associates include Juniperus osteosperma, Chamaechaenactis, Eriogonum ephedroides, Cercocarpus montanus, Forsellesia meionandra, and Parthenium ligulatum.

Elevation Range: 5,118 - 6,384 feet (1,560 - 1,946 meters)

[+] Distribution

Distribution of Penstemon grahamii in Colorado.
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Colorado endemic: No
Global range: The narrow range of this species is approximately 10km (6mi) wide by 128km (80 mi) long. The area makes-up a shape that looks like a curved band. The species is known from the area in Utah where the Carbon, Duschesne and Uintah counties meet in the Sand Wash and Nine Mile Creek drainages. The range extends east across the Utah border into Colorado and north to Rio Blanco County, Colorado (USFWS 2006).
State range: Known from Rio Blanco County in Colorado. Estimated range in Colorado is 24 square kilometers (9 square miles), calculated in GIS by drawing a minimum convex polygon around the known occurrences (calculated by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program in 2008).

[+] Threats and Management Issues

Summary results of an analysis of the status of Penstemon grahamii based on several ranking factors. This species was concluded to be “weakly conserved”. From Rondeau et al. 2011.
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The primary threat at this time is considered to be oil and gas development (Rondeau et al. 2011) leading to potential elimination of occurrences/subpopulations, habitat degradation and fragmentation. It is not known if all of the occurrences are or are not threatened by these activities. The known occurrences in Colorado are within the Raven Ridge BLM ACEC. The plants occur within an area of developed and expanding oil and gas fields with several wells and access roads; additional potential threats include off-road vehicle use, grazing, drought, low seed production, small population size, and noxious weeds.

[+] References

    • Ackerfield, J. 2012. The Flora of Colorado. Colorado State University Herbarium. 433 pp.
    • Albee, B.J., L.M. Shultz, and S. Goodrich. 1988. Atlas of the vascular plants of Utah. Utah Museum Natural History Occasional Publication 7, Salt Lake City, Utah. 670 pp.
    • Center for Native Ecosystems. 2002. Petition to List Graham's Penstemon (Penstemon grahamii) as Threatened or Endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Office of Endangered Species, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
    • Colorado Native Plant Society. 1989. Rare plants of Colorado. Rocky Mountain Nature Association, Colorado Native Plant Society, Estes Park, Colorado. 73 pp.
    • Colorado Natural Heritage Program. 2003. Biological Conservation Data. Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, CO.
    • Colorado Natural Heritage Program. 2013. The Tenth Annual Colorado Rare Plant Symposium: G2-G3 Plants of Northeast Colorado. Symposium Minutes. Available on-line
    • Cronquist, A., A. H. Holmgren, N. H. Holmgren, J. L. Reveal and P. K. Holmgren. 1977. Intermountain Flora Vascular Plants of the Intermountain West, USA: vol. 6. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY.
    • Elliott, B. A., S. Spackman Panjabi, B. Kurzel, B. Neely, R. Rondeau, M. Ewing. 2009. Recommended Best Management Practices for Plants of Concern. Practices developed to reduce the impacts of oil and gas development activities to plants of concern. Unpublished report prepared by the Rare Plant Conservation Initiative for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
    • Franklin, B. 2003. Personal communication with Colorado Natural Heritage Program.
    • Galatowitsch, S. and S.L. O'Kane, Jr. 1985. Plant species of special concern for state of Colorado.
    • Graham, E. H. 1937. Botanical studies in the Uinta Basin of Utah and Colorado. Annals of the Carnegie Museum 26. Pittsburg, PA.
    • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
    • Neely, B., S. Panjabi, E. Lane, P. Lewis, C. Dawson, A. Kratz, B. Kurzel, T. Hogan, J. Handwerk, S. Krishnan, J. Neale, and N. Ripley. 2009. Colorado Rare Plant Conservation Strategy, Developed by the Colorado Rare Plant conservation Initiative. The Nature Conservancy, Boulder, Colorado, 117 pp.
    • O'Kane, S. L. 1988. Colorado's Rare Flora. Great Basin Naturalist. 48(4):434-484.
    • Robertson, E. 2003. CNE reply to Penstemon grahamii emergency listing denial.
    • Rondeau, R., K. Decker, J. Handwerk, J. Siemers, L. Grunau, and C. Pague. 2011. The state of Colorado's biodiversity 2011. Prepared for The Nature Conservancy. Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado.
    • Shultz, L.M., and K.M. Mutz. 1979. Threatened and endangered plants of the Willow Creek drainage. Vol. 1: text. Prepared for the Bureau of Land Management, Vernal District Office, Vernal, Utah. 57 pp. + appendix.
    • Spackman, S., B. Jennings, J. Coles, C. Dawson, M. Minton, A. Kratz, and C. Spurrier. 1997. Colorado rare plant field guide. Prepared for Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by Colorado Natural Heritage Program.
    • Tepedino, V.J. 2008. Personal communication.
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2004. Species assessment and listing priority assignment form. Penstemon grahamii. 9 pp.
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2006. Withdrawal of Proposed Rule to List Penstemon grahamii (Graham's beardtongue) as Threatened with Critical Habitat. Federal Register 71(243): 76024-76035.
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2006. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Threatened Status for Penstemon grahamii (Graham's beardtongue) With Critical Habitat; Proposed Rule. Federal Register 71(12): 3158-3196.
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2013. Threatened Species Status for Graham's Beardtongue (Penstemon grahamii) and White River Beardtongue (Penstemon scariosus var. albifluvis). Federal Register 78(151): 47590-47611.
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2014. Withdrawal of the Proposed Rules To List Graham’s Beardtongue (Penstemon grahamii) and White River Beardtongue (Penstemon scariosus var. albifluvis) and Designate Critical Habitat. Federal Register 79(151): 46042-46087.
    • USDA, NRCS. 2013. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.
    • Utah Conservation Data Center. 2003. Biological Conservation Datasystem. State of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Salt Lake City, Utah.
    • Weber, W. A. and R. C. Wittmann. 2012. Colorado Flora, Western Slope, A Field Guide to the Vascular Plants, Fourth Edition. Boulder, Colorado. 532 pp.
    • Welsh, S.L., N.D. Atwood, L.C. Higgins and S. Goodrich. 1987. Utah Flora, Great Basin Naturalist Memoirs, No. 9. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. 986 pp.
    • Welsh, S.L., N.D. Atwood, S. Goodrich, and L.C. Higgins (eds.) 1993. A Utah flora. 2nd edition. Brigham Young Univ., Provo, Utah. 986 pp.

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