Penstemon gracilis Nutt.
Family: Plantaginaceae
lilac penstemon, slender beard-tongue
Penstemon gracilis image
Merel R. Black  
Etymology: Penstemon: from the Greek pente, "five," and stemon, "stamen," for the fifth stamen, referring to the staminode, or just an allusion to the fact that it has five stamens
Plants: erect, perennial, 8"-24" tall forb; stems minutely hairy toward the bottom
Leaves: basal rosette of stalked leaves, opposite stem leaves stalkless
Flowers: pale purple, 5-parted, 1/2"-3/4" long, tubular, tube much longer than the lobes, throat open and with a flat base, 5 stamens (1 infertile); inflorescence a cluster with upward-pointing branches; blooms June-July
Habitat: full to partial sun; dry; prairies, inland sands, woods; in sandy, gravelly soil
Conservation Status: Native