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322 East Front Street
Boise, ID, 83702
United States


Providing the knowledge and technology required to improve the availability of native plant materials for restoring diverse native plant communities across the Great Basin.

2015 Climate Change & Seed Zones

Morphological and Genetic Characterization of Blue Penstemon (Penstemon cyaneus
Mikel Stevens, Robert Johnson, Shaun Bushman, and Jason Stettler

Our objective is to characterize the morphological and genetic variation within blue penstemon (Penstemon cyaneus Pennell). To assess this variability we will collect seeds for common garden evaluation and tissue samples for molecular genetic analysis. Seed and tissue samples will be collected from a minimum of 60 wild populations across its range. Genetic variation will be evaluated in order to determine if specific genotypes exist and if those genotypes are correlated both geographically and with morphological traits that may have value in plant restoration. It is anticipated that this project will take approximately four years to complete.

For this study we propose to make approximately 60 collections of blue penstemon across its known ecological and geographical distribution. A minimum of eight tissues samples from each site will be collected for molecular evaluation. Seed will be harvested from multiple plants at each site for the common garden trial. We have identified 122 unique GPS blue penstemon sites scattered across its known distribution. Herbarium records reveal the occurrence of blue penstemon in 23 counties in central Idaho, two in Montana, and four in Wyoming. Blue penstemon field work will focus in the "dry sagebrush plains and foothills and open woodlands6" of central Idaho, northwest Wyoming, and southwest Montana near Yellowstone National Park3,6. We plan to make collections during June and July 2015, and if necessary, during the same time of year 2016. We will make at least three one-week collections trips: one in early June for low elevation sites, one in early July for high elevation sites, and one in August for seed collection.