Penstemon australis

From Coastal Plain Plants Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Penstemon australis
Penstemon australis Gil.jpg
Photo taken by Gil Nelson
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Order: Scrophulariales
Family: Scrophulariaceae
Genus: Penstemon
Species: P. australis
Binomial name
Penstemon australis
PENS AUST dist.jpg
Natural range of Penstemon australis from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common names: Eustis Lake beardtongue, southern beardtongue, sandhill beardtongue[1], Downy Beardtongue[2][3]

Taxonomic notes

Synonyms: none[1]

Varieties: none[1]


Penstemon australis is a perennial herbaceous species.

"Virgate, single-stemmed to bushy, perennial herbs with a mildly fetid odor; stems glabrous or pubescent. Leaves simple, unlobed, serrate or entire, those of the basal rosette petiolate, cauline leaves sessile, opposite, usually lanceolate. Inflorescence a panicle or thyrse. Sepals 5, free to base; corolla tubular, 2-lipped, the upper lip 2- lobed, the lower lip 3-lobed, throat inflated; fertile stamens 4, staminode pubescent; stigmas undivided, style 1. Capsule subconical; seeds angular, reticulate, usually ca. 1 mm in diam."[4]

"Stems one to several, 2-7 dm tall, not branched above the base, glabrous to pubescent. Leaves glabrous to pubescent, moderately thick, the basal oblanceolate to obovate, usually 5-10 (14) cm long, 1.5-2.5 (3.5) cm wide, subentire or occasionally dentate, often persistent through anthesis, cauline laves narrowly lanceolate, 3-10 cm long, 0.5-2.5 cm wide, coarsely toothed to rarely subentire. Thyrse moderately compact, not leafy, glabrous to densely glandular, the tips of the glands less than ¼ the length of, and little broader than, the stalks. Sepals 3-5 mm long; corolla rose to lavender and violet, the guide lines usually reddish purple alternating with white, the floor deeply pleated, 15-25 mm long, gradually inflated to a throat 6-8 mm in diam., lobes spreading. Anther sacs glabrous, staminode densely bearded for most of its length with golden trichomes 1 mm long, exserted. Capsule 6-8 (10) mm long; seeds 0.1-1.1 mm long, often conspicuously apiculately thickened."[4]


P. australis ranges from southeastern Virginia, south to central peninsular Florida, and west to southern Alabama. It's primarily on the Coastal Plain, but it is not uncommon in the Piedmont Mountains and central Tennessee.[1]



P. australis occurs in the dry loamy sand of longleaf pine forests and pine-oak sandhills.[5] It also can be found in mixed woodlands and pine-hickory uplands.[5] On the other hand, it appears in disturbed habitat as well, including roadsides and near areas that have been logged.[5] Associated species include Pinus palustris, Carya, and Quercus.[5]


P. australis flowers in April, May, and June and fruits in May.[5][6]

Seed dispersal

This species is thought to be dispersed by gravity.[7]

Fire ecology

This species has been found in habitat that is burned annually[5] such as the Pebble Hill plantation in north Florida[8] and the Wade Tract in south Georgia.[9]


This species is an important nectar source for bee species native to its range.[10][11][12][13]

Conservation, cultivation, and restoration

Cultural use

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Weakley, A.S. 2020. Flora of the Southeastern United States. Edition of 20 October 2020. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  2. Denhof, Carol. 2016. Plant Spotlight Downy Beardtongue Penstemon Australis Small. The Longleaf Leader – Longleaf Regenerated. Vol. IX. Iss. 1. Page 8
  3. Miller, J.H. and K.V. Miller. Forest Plants of the Southeast and their Wildlife Uses. The University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA. 454pp.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Radford, Albert E., Harry E. Ahles, and C. Ritchie Bell. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. 1964, 1968. The University of North Carolina Press. 947. Print.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: Last accessed: June 2014. Collectors: Rodie White, Robert K. Godfrey, R. A. Norris, R. Komarek, and Loran C. Anderson. States and Counties: Florida: Gadsden, Leon, Liberty, Wakulla, and Washington. Georgia: Grady.
  6. Nelson, G. PanFlora: Plant data for the eastern United States with emphasis on the Southeastern Coastal Plains, Florida, and the Florida Panhandle. Accessed: 12 DEC 2016
  7. Kirkman, L. Katherine. Unpublished database of seed dispersal mode of plants found in Coastal Plain longleaf pine-grasslands of the Jones Ecological Research Center, Georgia.
  8. Robertson, K.M. Unpublished data collected from Pebble Hill Fire Plots, Pebble Hill Plantation, Thomasville, Georgia.
  9. Platt, W.J., R. Carter, G. Nelson, W. Baker, S. Hermann, J. Kane, L. Anderson, M. Smith, K. Robertson. 2021. Unpublished species list of Wade Tract old-growth longleaf pine savanna, Thomasville, Georgia.
  10. Denhof, Carol. 2016. Plant Spotlight Downy Beardtongue Penstemon Australis Small. The Longleaf Leader – Longleaf Regenerated. Vol. IX. Iss. 1. Page 8
  11. Miller, J.H. and K.V. Miller. Forest Plants of the Southeast and their Wildlife Uses. The University of Georgia Press, Atehns, GA. 454pp.
  12. Sorries, B.A. 2011. A Field Guide to Wildflowers of the Sandhills Region. The University of North Carolina Press. Chapel Hill, NC. 378pp.
  13. USDA, NRCS. 2018 The PLANTS Database (, 29 September 2011). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.