Wildflowers, Plants and Ferns, Pacific Northwest
Coast Penstemon is an upright species of penstemon, with one to several slender stems rising from a woody base up to 70 cm in height. You can find it growing in meadows, open forest settings and along streams at low to mid elevations.
As with most penstemons, the leaves are opposite on the stems. The leaves of Coast Penstemon are all found on the stems. They have short petioles at the bottom, while those above may be sessile or clasping. The lower leaves may be as long as 90 mm. The leaves may be almost entire to very serrate, lanceolate to elliptic or heart-shaped.
The Coast Penstemon typically has a single, tight cluster of flowers at the tip of the flowering stem. However, there may be as many as five well-spaced verticillasters present. The sepals are narrow to ovate, with the margins very finely haired. The corolla is a short tube at the base of the flower which expands greatly to a longer, wider tube. The flowers are strongly two-lipped, to 25 mm long. The flower color is purple to blue.
Coast Penstemon is found along the coast from southern Alaska through British Columbia and Washington to northwest Oregon. On Vancouver Island it may be found up to elevations of 1500 meters.
On the west coast of Vancouver Island you will see it at sea level just about every spot you take a look for it, it is very prolific and quite beautiful to observe.
Firsts peoples used this plant as a poultice for wounds, burns and other infection prone injuries, it was used internally for menstrual pains and was used as an eye wash. Today it is mostly just an ornamental flower.