Ozark Flower Detective

I am constantly learning more about native plants even while vacationing! I was driving in the Missouri Ozarks last week and saw a large stand of Missouri primrose flowers in full bloom along both sides of the highway. The bright yellow flowers were everywhere perched along a rocky outcropping. For several miles I admired their shiny blossoms. Then I realized I had to stop and document this stand of amazing native flowers. My photo shows the Missouri primrose and the unknown wildflower next to it. Once I got the photo on my computer I could see the plant up closely. Then I discovered what I had only suspected–I could see it is one of the natives that Jeanne planted in our own garden last year. It was a purple beardtongue growing in a hot dry rocky spot!

Large yellow flowers of Missouri primrose dotted the hillside with a single purple beardtongue cluster to form a delightful combination.

Large yellow flowers of Missouri primrose dotted the hillside with a single purple beardtongue cluster to form a delightful combination.

The first picture shows that spot along the highway and the third is of the beardtongue blooming here. It is almost as tall as our foxgloves–the non-natives that have dominated our late spring garden for decades because the deer will not eat them. The purple beardtongue flowers are long lasting on strong stalks. Our foxgloves bloom in early to mid-May. The purple beardtongue blooms late May into June. The purple beardtongue is a penstemon and we have the smooth penstemon also which has a white flower. Both are perennials. Planting those two with the Missouri primrose would be pleasing. Thought everyone would enjoy seeing what grows together in the wild and can take more sun than the foxgloves.

Foxgloves with a butterfly visitor--note the similar form to the beardtongue.

Foxgloves with a butterfly visitor–note the similar form to the beardtongue.


Purple Beardtongue thrives in our hillside garden. This perennnial penstemon is an easy native flower for a sunny spot.

Purple Beardtongue thrives in our hillside garden. This perennnial penstemon is as easy native flower for a sunny spot.

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