Penstemon gracilis
Slender beard tongue
Image of Penstemon gracilis

Photo by Robert W. Freckmann 

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Key Characteristics

Slender forb of open rocky woods or barrens in the western Upper Peninsula; stem finely hairy with opposite, sessile, lanceolate, glabrous leaves; flowers pale purple, uniting to form a slender open tube 15-20 mm long.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: E
  • State Rank: S1
  • Global Rank: G5


County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Distribution map for Penstemon gracilis

Updated 5/15/2018. Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Michigan's sole locality for this species was an open, rocky woods above the Menominee River, occurring on sunny cliff ledges near the base of high cliffs.

Natural Community Types


For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Associated Plants

Only noted as collected along the Menominee River in Dickinson County in the remnants of an oak(-pine) barrens. Likely to be associated with common dry savanna species like big and little bluestem, Pennsylvania sedge, blazing star, prairie willow, black-eyed susan, and other species.


A status survey is recommended to confirm and re-document existing populations. Management that perpetuates oak barrens like prescribed fire and brush removal is likely beneficial to this species.

General Survey Guidelines

Random meander search covers areas that appear likely to have rare taxa, based on habitat and the judgement of the investigator.

Survey Methods

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at [Accessed Aug 17, 2018]


Survey References

Technical References

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