California Beardtongue Blooms in Western Riverside County
It’s a common saying that “Perennials are the backbone of a garden.” They are dependable plants that bloom for several years. Like any garden, the western Riverside County MSHCP has a trusty perennial herb, the California beardtongue (penstemon californicus), blooming on conserved land. This plant is one of 53 herbaceous plants covered by the MSHCP and is the latest RCA Species Spotlight. The California beardtongue gets its name from hairs (staminodes) that line the inside of the throats of its tubular purple/blue flowers.
The plant grows from 10 to 30 cm in height with flowers between 1 and 2 cm long. It usually blooms from May to June.
In western Riverside County, the beardtongue has been seen in the San Jacinto Mountains, Diamond Valley Lake, and the Santa Rosa Plateau in sandy soil and rocky slopes in chaparral, coniferous forest, and pinyon-juniper woodland habitats.
The California beardtongue is classified as a Forest Service Sensitive Species, meaning its population is of particular concern within the region.
Within the MSHCP Conservation Area, at least 118,110 acres of suitable habitat will be conserved so these plants can thrive. The MSHCP describes areas within the San Jacinto Mountains, and Foothills and Santa Ana Mountain bioregions as the best habitats for this colorful herb.
The species is threatened by grazing, firebreak construction and maintenance, and residential development. As part of the conservation efforts, the MSHCP will continue to look for suitable habitats so that this species can sustain its hairy existence, year after year.