We purchased a penstemon with individual purple flowers for the first 2 years. This year it has grown with the flowers shown in the photo. What's that all about?

][1] This is just what the plant looks like. I guess it may have been in the compost that the Penstemon came in as we have never grown any of these. Many thanks for your help.

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2 Answers 2


I would go with Bugbane...Cimicifuga racemosa. The purple variety. I love this plant and have grown many of them. This is not Penstemon from what I see in your photograph. Shoot, they've change the name of the genus on this plant. It is now Actaea. Change is constant I guess.

By the way, this is one wonderful plant to have...I've grown these in dire environments and they always look nursery fresh and add so much to the composition of a plant bed. Hardy and I would add at least 3 or 5 more to make a big bunch...with a couple placed in another bed to tie this color and texture into your landscape.

I have to say this; your fence is rotting. You need to remove the soil at least 2 inches below the bottom of your fence. Or replace in the next few years. Fix it now and I think it will last another decade or so...

images of bugbane

  • It looks like it is a Bugbane with purple leaves. I can only imagine it was in the compost that the Persemon came in, as we have never grown any of these. Thanks for working this out for me. Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 10:05
  • I know it is Bugbane. I raised bugbane, especially the purple ones...grins! Thanks.
    – stormy
    Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 0:47
  • No, I did not post it, and I've only just seen it - it appears to have been edited in by someone else, presumably Ben. I've not been paying much attention the last few days to the site, and this edit has been approved without my approval, which I would not have given. I asked for images of the plant from the OP before I'd say what it was; you took a guess and it turns out to be right, so now there's a complete mess because of Ben's edit, which doesn't even name the plant anyway. Perhaps he meant to edit it into your answer;I'll give you a point.I'm annoyed a random pic has been added
    – Bamboo
    Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 11:59
  • I take it back - Alina's explained what happened below... by the way, I didn't say it was Phytolacca, only that it was not penstemon, looked vaguely like one of the phytolacca, and we needed pics... which, as it happened, the OP did provide, just in the wrong place
    – Bamboo
    Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 17:27
  • I've been edited...constantly. I don't remember that I had to ever approve an edit. It just happened. Sue has asked my permission to post pictures and I've seen edits but I haven't ever been asked to approve...or maybe I just didn't care? Anyway. I used to check out new questions and stuff cause it was a great way to read and answer FIRSTUS. Haven't for a long long time. I'll let Ben, Sue, Niall, J.Musser....those guys do a great job...so much work to focus and answer a question...check references...sure has been good for me and improving what I know...that is why I am here!
    – stormy
    Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 19:15

That's not a Penstemon, looks more like one of the Phytolacca genus, sometimes known as Pokeweed. Need a photograph of the whole plant please, showing foliage as well to ID correctly. You also don't say where you are - many Penstemons are not entirely hardy, so in colder regions, it's possible the one you planted died, and this has grown in a similar spot.

  • I will take a picture including leaves.First time on here so how do I put another picture on please. Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 20:50
  • Edit your question, then add or replace with another photo the same way you put the first one up - there's a little 'edit' under the question... please also say what part of the world you're in.
    – Bamboo
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 21:45
  • Bamboo, did you post that picture? That is Bugbane. Not pokeweed.
    – stormy
    Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 0:49
  • @Bamboo The picture was added by the OP by mistake. I have moved it to the original question.
    – Alina
    Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 14:51
  • @Alina Oh, okay... I had no idea what had happened...
    – Bamboo
    Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 17:26

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