Our wildflower of the week is our lovely lavender penstemon, Penstemon secundiflorus. Its scientific name uses the word secund, which means one-sided. This highlights the characteristic that all the flowers are on one side of the stem. Another characteristic is that its leaves are said to be glaucose, which means they are covered with a white waxy substance that makes the leaves look grayish, but can be rubbed off to show the green underneath.
Los Alamos has several penstemons but perhaps this is our most beloved one, coming as it does so early in the year gracing our ponderosa forests. But it’s not limited to these areas, being comfortable in the dryer piñon/juniper also. I have found it even down at the bottom of White Rock Canyon. It also defies color with some being nearly pink and others nearly purple. It graces our woodlands for only a few weeks and then is gone.