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The penstemons (also called beardtongues) are in full glory this week and popular with flying visitors.

Who is this?

Oh, a bee.

Guess it wasn't finished.

Clean up time.

Good to go.

Do you think this flower qualifies as take out?

 

The penstemons are flowering.

They are a favorite.

Hummingbirds love them.

So do solitary bees. In fact, the stalks are abuzz with bees.

The digger bees and sweat bees land, and crawl right into the flower in no time.

This is the usual view of a bee visiting a flower. The nectaries are at the base, so the bees push their heads deep inside and suck up the nectar with their long tongues.

Then the bee is off to the next flower.

If you are interested in helping bees and hummingbirds, penstemons are great plants to grow.

As Heather recognized, our mystery seeds from last week were from plants commonly called penstemon or beard-tongue, which are a number of different species in the genus Penstemon.

I chose them for Valentine's Day for two reasons. First of all, did you notice one of the seeds was shaped like a tiny heart?

Secondly, the red and pink flowers are a beautiful way to celebrate.

As I mentioned last week, bees and hummingbirds love these flowers, too.

An easy way to identify them is look for the pairs of leaves along the stems.

The foliage often shows pink to reddish purple colors, as well as greens.

Penstemons readily reseed and seem to move about the yard from year to year if you let them. They are never overwhelming, though, just a few here and there.

Do any species of penstemon grow where you live?