Certain plant genera like Penstemon (the beardtongues) are pioneer species in the wild and are among the first groups of plants that will re-colonize disturbed areas. Fires, road construction, mining, mud slides and other natural and man-made damage to wild areas create a void that pioneer plants can take advantage of. Penstemon love these disturbed sites and their seeds can quickly germinate to re-populate the area. In time, as the soil regains its microbial populations (micorrhizal fungi and other organisms) and the pioneer plants have built up some organic matter on the soil surface, the next wave of plant succession will begin and crowd out the Penstemon. Many other genera of native plants are also pioneers and can be used to reclaim and re-populate wild areas. You see many of these plants when post-construction roadsides are re-seeded to stabilize bank cuts and road margins.