CPC Plant Profile: Sunset Crater Beardtongue
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Plant Profile

Sunset Crater Beardtongue (Penstemon clutei)

The beautiful deep pink flowers of the Sunset Crater beardtongue. Photo Credit: Joyce Maschinski
  • Global Rank: G2 - Imperiled
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Plantaginaceae
  • State: AZ, NN
  • Nature Serve ID: 139591
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 02/09/1992

Penstemon clutei is a unique species in a genus of nearly 300 species in North and Central America. Forty six of these 300 species are found in Arizona. (Lehr 1978) Plants have one to several stems that grow up to 32 inches tall. Leaves are waxy and serrate. Bright pink tubular flowers, each with a swollen belly-like protuberance at the bottom, appear from late April through early August.

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Sheila Murray
  • 10/11/2021
  • Seed Collection

CPC received a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for a project entitled, “RNA integrity as a powerful metric of aging in preserved seed collections of wild rare plant species”, and as part of this grant The Arboretum at Flagstaff collected seeds for Penstemon clutei, or the Sunset Crater Penstemon. We collected 500 seeds bulked together in July of 2021. These fresh seeds will be compared to older seed we collected from the same population to find out how fast rare seeds are losing their viability in storage. The seed collecting conditions in 2021 were vastly superior to conditions in 2020, in which Northern Arizona experienced the worst drought in recorded history. Plants all across the ecosystem responded well to the shift back to a relatively normal amount of rainfall.


Center for Plant Conservation
  • 08/19/2021
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

In 2021, CPC contracted the Arboretum at Flagstaff to recollect seed from a population currently held in long term orthodox seed storage as part of an IMLS-funded seed longevity experiment. The National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation will evaluate how germination tested viability and RNA Integrity of seed lots decline over time in storage.

  • 09/23/2020
  • Demographic Research

Fule et al. (2001) have been studying various aspects of P. clutei biology for years. Their findings indicate that the species is disturbance-adapted and can benefit from release from competition in the wild.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

A narrow endemic of volcanic cinder areas in north-central Arizona. There are approximately 37 known populations, mostly small clusters of plants in scattered pockets (Center for Plant Conservation). Dependent on periodic fires (AGFD 1997).

Joyce Maschinski, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Threats include: Off-road vehicles Herbivory by domestic and wild ungulate Timber salvage operations

Joyce Maschinski, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

36 known populations; usually found as small clusters of plants in scattered pockets

Joyce Maschinski, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Fule et al. (2001) have been studying various aspects of P. clutei biology for years. Their findings indicate that the species is disturbance-adapted and can benefit from release from competition in the wild.

Joyce Maschinski, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

The USDA Forest Service manages Penstemon clutei as a sensitive species.

Joyce Maschinski, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

The impact of off-road vehicles on this species needs to be reduced. There is a need for an updated status report for this species.

Joyce Maschinski, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

The plant grows well in cultivation, but is relatively short-lived i.e., 3 years.


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Taxon Penstemon clutei
Authority A. Nels.
Family Plantaginaceae
CPC Number 3221
ITIS 33853
Common Names beardtongue | sunset crater beardtongue | Sunset Crater penstemon
Associated Scientific Names Penstemon clutei | Penstemon pseudospectabilis subsp. clutei
Distribution Known only from the vicinity of the Sunset Crater and the Indian Flat area in Coconino County, Arizona. (Kearney & Peebles 1973; Arizona Fish and Game Department 1999)
State Rank
State State Rank
Arizona S2
Navajo Nation SU

Found in volcanic fields associated with the Sunset Crater eruption at 6500-8500 ft elevation (Kearney & Peebles 1973)

Ecological Relationships

None known.

Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

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