PEEC SPEAKS: Wildflower Notes – It's Penstemon time

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By Chick Keller

One of the most beautiful times of the flowering year is the height of bloom of One-sided Penstemon (Penstemon secundiflorus).

A walk out Bayo Bench trail is a good way to see these “nature’s snapdragons.” There are several hundred plants along the trail, some nearly2 feet high with many stems and blooms. Other plants are only 7-9 inches tall with a single stem.

Regardless, their color is nearly indescribable. Lavender is the closest I can come but it doesn’t do justice to the soft, subtle hues of the blooms.

Already, the ones out on the sunniest part of the trail are coming to an end, so hurry out before these ephemeral harbingers of summer go to seed.

Along Bayo Bench there are a few others in bloom but not so many as to be confusing. There are two yellow daisies – Perky Sue and the Senecio cousins (notchleaf, New Mexico, and Wooten’s) similar excepting for leaf shape.

Perky Sue differs from the senecios in that its petals remain wide (rather than coming to a single point) and end in three teeth.

They are referred to as “tri-dentate,” with the root “dent” common to other toothy words such as dentist and dandelion (English for the french dent-de-lion which refers to the dandelion’s sharply toothed leaves).

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