The Heart of Penstemon Country
A Natural History of Penstemons in the Utah Region

by Mikel R. Stevens, PhD
and Stephen L. Love
and Tony McCammon

published by Mikel R. Stevens, PhD

produced by Sweetgrass Books

  • "In the hot deserts of southern Utah, surrounded by dry, infertile soil and withered plants, it's not hard to find a penstemon growing out from a rocky slope in full bloom without any signs of stress. Awe and wonder over such an anomaly have sparked decades of research of this genus across North America and Europe. This book combines these efforts into the most detailed and comprehensive Penstemon reference ever written from the perspective of the genus' epicenter. It is a treasure trove to plant breeders and penstemon aficionados, who will pull this resource from the shelf again and again."

    -Dr. Shaun Broderick, Assistant Research & Extension Professor of Ornamental Horticulture, Mississippi State University Extension

    What do you get when three horticulturalists combine expertise and direct it towards a single plant genus?

    In this case, a fascinating volume detailing the natural history of the stunning wildflowers we know as penstemons. More specifically, the 76 species of Penstemons found in the mountains, deserts, and canyon lands of Utah--the probable center of origin for this complex array of intriguing plants. Penstemon truly is Utah's wildflower.

    Within these pages you will find the most detailed and comprehensive information ever compiled for this group of Utah's floristic treasures. This book provides information on the discovery of each species, historical ethnobotanical uses, information on range and habitat, detailed description of foliage and flowers, and methods you can use to grow each species in your own garden. Take this book along on your next outdoor adventure and use it to identify and learn about each and every penstemon you encounter.

394 pages, 9 x 12, 522 color photos, 6 illustrations, 105 map(s), index, glossary, PUR Casebound

ISBN 10: 1591522617
ISBN 13: 9781591522614

June 2020





The Heart of Penstemon Country
A Natural History of Penstemons in the Utah Region

Dr. Mikel Stevens graduated from Snow College (AS in Botany and Zoology), Brigham Young University - Provo (BS and MS in Horticulture), and the University of Arkansas (PhD in Plant Breeding). After Graduating from BYU, Mikel worked for Texas A&M University AgriLife Research Station in Munday, Texas researching vegetable production questions and later operating a small, family owned retail greenhouse nursery business in Brigham City, Utah. In 1988, he returned to school to earn a PhD, while studying tomato disease resistance. After completing postdoctoral research at the University of Florida Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, he joined the faculty at BYU - Provo. After 25 years at BYU, Mikel retired as a professor where he did research and taught classes in general biology, plant science, plant breeding, vegetable crops, and career preparation in horticulture and genetics. His research encompassed plant disease resistance in quinoa and tomatoes, as well as initiating a plant breeding program focused on developing drought tolerant, urban landscape adapted cultivars, derived from the native Penstemon species of the Intermountain West. Mikel's research has led to the identification of new Penstemon taxa in the Intermountain area.

Dr. Stephen Love graduated with degrees in horticulture from both Brigham Young (BS) University and Clemson University (PhD). After graduation, Stephen took a position at the University of Idaho Aberdeen Rsearch & Extension Center where he began a career that has spanned 34 years. Stephen is co-leader of the UI Horticulture Team and provides teaching and administrative support for statewide research and outreach programs on topics related to urban horticulture. His subject matter specialties are landscape maintenance and small-scale production of vegetables. He operates a unique research program emphasizing domestication of native plants for the creation of water-conserving and sustainable home and commercial landscapes. A significant element of his domestication efforts are species in the genus Penstemon.

Tony McCammon graduated from Utah State University with a degree in Plant Science. After graduation, he took a position as an Extension Educator with the University of Idaho where he honed his skills as a master teacher and plant expert. After 15 years, Tony founded Bloom Horticulture Specialists of Saint George, Utah where he inspires landscape stewardship through landscape design, speaking, and consulting. Tony's lifelong interest in Native American connections to the land has fueled his interest in ethnobotany and wilderness survival. He loves hiking, canyoneering, and plant hunting. He uses his experiences in nature for his online classes and continuing education programs with Dixie State University and various botanical gardens. He is a featured speaker on and has been a regular speaker or writer for the Association for Garden Communicators and Idaho and Utah Nursery and Landscape Associations. He is also a member of Utah and Idaho Native Plant Societies and the American Penstemon Society.

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