Penstemon pinifolius 'Mersea Yellow'
Common Name: pine-leaved penstemon 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Plantaginaceae
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: June to August
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen
Attracts: Hummingbirds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Rabbit, Drought, Shallow-Rocky Soil


Best grown in moist to dry, sandy, very well-draining soils in full sun. Does not tolerate shade or wet, heavy clay soils. Some drought tolerance once established. Hardy from Zones 4-9. Some report this plant to be hardy to -40 F (Zone 3). In colder areas, a layer of dry mulch should be applied after the first hard freeze. Deadheading will encourage reblooming and more vigorous growth. This plant will stay mostly evergreen except in the coldest areas of its hardiness range.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Penstemon pinifolius, commonly called pine-leaved penstemon, is a woody, semi-evergreen, perennial subshrub native to elevated rocky outcrops in the forested mountains of southeastern Arizona and into western New Mexico. Plants can reach 10-12" tall with a 12-18" spread, over time forming a twisting, woody base from which the new growth will emerge. The stems are upright to gently leaning, with thin, narrow foliage (0.75-1" long) resembling pine needles along their lengths. Flowering inflorescences emerge in late spring through the summer from the ends of the new growth. The blooms are bright, coral to red tubular flowers with the distinct lobed corollas of most penstemons. Highly attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators.

The genus name Penstemon likely comes from the Latin paene meaning "almost" or "nearly" and the Greek stemon meaning "stamen". The name may also comes from the Greek penta meaning "five" and stemon meaning "stamen". Both refer to the fifth, sterile stamen (staminode) that characterizes members of this genus.

The specific epithet pinifolius refers to the resemblance of the foliage to the needles of a pine.

'Mersea Yellow' is one of the few truly yellow penstemon cultivars. It was discovered in England as a sport off of a species plant. Its bright, lemon yellow, tubular flowers are still just as attractive to hummingbirds and other pollinators as the red flowers of the straight species.


No major pest or disease issues. Slugs and powdery mildew can be problematic.


Suitable for rock gardens, mixed borders, native wildflower gardens, and containers.