Blowout penstemon (Penstemon haydenii)
Where Listed: WHEREVER FOUND
Blowout penstemon is a short-lived perennial, frequently occurring in large, multi-stemmed clumps containing flowering and vegetative stems. Vegetative stems are commonly up to 1 foot tall, but can sometimes reach nearly 2 feet. Vegetative stems are lax and curved upward from the base. Plants often root from stem nodes if stem nodes are buried in sand. The opposite, linear leaves are lax, 1 to 8 inches long and 1/4 inch to 1 inch wide, and are attached directly to the stem with no petiole. The leaves are greenish-blue and waxy, with no hairs, parallel veins and smooth edges. The flowering stems are stout, up to about 1/2 inch in diameter, and usually 6 to 18 inches tall. Leaves on the flowering stems are up to 3 inches wide, lance-shaped and stiff. The flowering head is cylindrical with 16 to 80 flowers arranged in several whorls. Each whorl is located directly above a pair of stiff, overlapping, leaf-like bracts. The bracts are longer than they are wide with heart-shaped bases. The individual flowers are comprised of a 1 to 1-1/2 inches long, tube-shaped corolla that is milky blue, milky lavender or, rarely, white or pink. The upper lip of the corolla has 2 lobes; the lower lip has 3 lobes. Distinct magenta lines inside the corolla guide insects to the nectar. Source: Stubbendieck, J., J. A. Lamphere, and J. B. Fitzgerald. 1997. Nebraska's Threatened and Endangered Species: Blowout Penstemon. NebraskaLand Magazine brochure series. Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Lincoln, Nebraska.
- States/US Territories in which the Blowout penstemon is known to or is believed to occur: Nebraska , Wyoming
- US Counties in which the Blowout penstemon is known to or is believed to occur: View All
- USFWS Refuges in which the Blowout penstemon is known to occur:
Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Valentine National Wildlife Refuge
|Status||Date Listed||Lead Region||Where Listed|
|09/01/1987||Mountain-Prairie Region (Region 6)|
» Federal Register Documents
|09/01/1987||52 FR 32926 32929||Final Rule to Determine Penstemon haydenii (Blowout Penstemon) to be End. Species; 52 FR 32926-32929|
|10/06/2008||73 FR 58261 58262||5-Year Reviews of Three Wildlife Species and Eight Plant Species in the Mountain-Prairie Region|
|04/29/1986||51 FR 15929 15932||Proposal to Determine Penstemon haydenii to be End. Species; 51 FR 15929- 15932|
|Date||Title||Plan Action Status||Plan Status|
|07/17/1992||Blowout Penstemon||View Implementation Progress||Final|
|Date||Citation Page||Title||Document Type|
|10/06/2008||73 FR 58261 58262||5-Year Reviews of Three Wildlife Species and Eight Plant Species in the Mountain-Prairie Region||
|06/01/2012||Blowout Penstemon (Penstemon haydenii) 5-Year Review|
» Critical Habitat
No critical habitat rules have been published for the Blowout penstemon.
» Conservation Plans
No conservation plans have been created for Blowout penstemon.
» Life History
Blowout penstemon is a short-lived perennial plant, native to shifting sand and requiring moving sand in blowouts or sand ridges (in Wyoming) to thrive. The common name of the blowout penstemon comes from the blowouts in the Sandhills of Nebraska. Blowouts are round or conical eroded areas, depressions formed in the sand when prevailing northwesterly winds scoop out the sides of the hills (Pool 1914 in Kottas 2008). These eroded areas form on the sides of dunes when vegetative cover is removed or disturbed and wind action further exposes the slopes (Stubbendieck et al. 1989). Blowout penstmeon is a pioneer species in these blowouts, frequently found among blowout grass [Redfieldia flexuosa (Thurb.) Vasey], which is often the first pioneer in a blowout (Kottas 2008). Neither blowout grass nor blowout penstemon persist after other grasses begin to invade the blowout. The amount of suitable, active blowout habitat has declined markedly since settlement of the Sandhills region in the early 20th century. Kottas, K.L. 2008. Life history and modeling of an endangered plant, Penstemon haydenii. Ph.D. Dissertation. University of Nebraska, Lincoln. 282 pp. Pool, R. J. 1914. A study of the vegetation of the Sandhills of Nebraska. Minnesota Botanical Studies 4:188-312. Stubbendieck, J. T.R. Flessner, and R.R. Weedon. 1989. Blowouts in the Nebraska Sandhills: The habitat of Penstemon haydenii. In Proceedings of the Eleventh North American Prairie Conference, ed. T.B. Bragg and Stubbendieck, 223-25. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Blowout penstemon is a short-lived perennial plant, native to shifting sand and requiring moving sand in blowouts or sand ridges (in Wyoming) to thrive. It grows from a tap root, initially producing a single stem, that often becomes decumbent. The stem roots readily where nodes are buried in the sand. Buds at the base of the stem break dormancy in the second spring, often producing multi-stemmed plants. These plants typically flower in the second or third year (Kottas 2008), and individual plants live for six to eight years (Stubbendieck et al. 1997). The lavender (or occasionally blue or white) flowers produce two-sided capsules (ovaries) bearing 25 to 35 discoid brown to black seeds (Fritz et al. 1992), although productivity of 14 seeds per capsule was found by Kottas (2008). Seeds have a thick, hard seed coat and germination in the field is typically very low. The seeds are adapted to dispersal by wind, which often distributes seed downwind across the edge of the blowout into the area of sand accumulation. Wind and animals aid in the seed dispersal. Seed numbers are highly variable among years and sites (Kottas 2008). Individual plants may produce approximately 1,400 to1,500 seeds (Kottas 2008; Fritz et al. 1992), but seed viability can reduce reproductive potential to an average of approximately 530 viable seeds per plant (Kottas 2008). The number of seeds in the seedbank is typically low, due mainly to predation by small mammals at the time of seed rain (Kottas 2008; Stubbendieck, pers comm.). Kottas (2008) investigated the effects of floral herbivory by insects and fungal infection on seed production and viability. She reported that treatments of plants with insecticide or fungicide did not significantly affect total seed output, weight or viability (Kottas 2008). Consequently, site specific herbivore, granivore and fungal impacts may be important when seed production is low or when the surrounding vegetation invades blowout penstemon habitat, bringing additional herbivory with it (Kottas 2008). Observations of seedlings in natural populations are rare. The sand must remain damp for a period of two weeks at the appropriate time in the spring for the seeds to germinate and for the roots of seedlings to reach a depth where moisture is available constantly. These limiting conditions are only met in one out of eight or ten years (Stubbendieck et al. 1997). Yet, the blowout penstemon has a relatively short lifespan of six to eight years due to the species adaptation to constantly moving habitat and because the plant is an early successional species. Therefore, even in blowouts where many seeds are produced, seedlings are rare. (Stubbendieck et al. 1997). Fritz, et al. 1992. Blowout Penstemon (Penstemon haydenii) Recovery Plan. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Denver, Colorado. 40 pp. Kottas, K.L. 2008. Life history and modeling of an endangered plant, Penstemon haydenii. Ph.D. Dissertation. University of Nebraska, Lincoln. 282 pp. Stubbendieck, J., J.B. Fitzgerald, D.T. Lindgren, and J.A. Lamphere. 1997. Penstemon haydenii: an update on an endangered species. Bulletin of the American Penstemon Society. Vol 56: 3-7.
The genus Penstemon is endemic to North America. Of 275 species in the Penstemon genus, the blowout penstemon and only one other species are fragrant (Kottas 2008). Blowout penstemon often is confused with shell-leaf penstemon (Penstemon grandiflorus) and narrow penstemon (Penstemon angustifolius), which also grow in the Nebraska Sandhills. The color of narrow penstemon flowers is similar to blowout penstemon, but the size is only 1 inch long. The flowers of shell-leaf penstemon are similar to blowout penstemon in size and color, but its leaves are spatula- or egg-shaped with the broades part above the middle. Both the narrow and shell-leaf penstemons are common in denser vegetation along roadsides in the Sandhills, while the blowout penstemon is only found in blowouts and among very sparse vegetation (Stubbendieck et al., 1997). Kottas, K.L. 2008. Life history and modeling of an endangered plant, Penstemon haydenii. Ph.D. Dissertation. University of Nebraska, Lincoln. 282 pp. Stubbendieck, J., J. A. Lamphere, and J. B. Fitzgerald. 1997. Nebraska's Threatened and Endangered Species: Blowout Penstemon. NebraskaLand Magazine brochure series. Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Lincoln, Nebraska.
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