General: perennial, 10-40 cm tall, with one to several stems arising from a usually branched, largely underground root crown. Plant evidently glandular soft- to stiff-hairy among the flowers, otherwise finely gray-short-hairy to long-hairy.
Leaves: basal and opposite, entire or more or less toothed, oblong to linear, the basal ones often poorly developed, up to 13 cm long and 2 cm wide.
Flowers: several in whorls from upper leaf axils. Calyx elongate, 7-13 mm long, the 5 segments lanceolate or narrower. Corolla glandular-hairy externally, pale lavender to deep blue-purple, 2-4 cm long, strongly inflated farther out, mostly 6-14 mm wide at the mouth, the lower lip longer than the upper. Palate strongly bearded. Pollen sacs hairless except for the finely bristle-toothed sutures, 1.1-1.8 mm long, opening the whole way, becoming opposite. Staminode more or less protruding from the opening of the corolla, slightly expanded toward the tip, prominently long-bearded for most of its length.
Fruits: capsules, glandular-short-hairy near the tip, 7-12 mm long, seeds 2-3 mm long.
Dry, open places in the valleys and foothills, sometimes up to moderate elevations in the mountains, in most parts of MT. Also from B.C. to WA, OR, CO, ND and NE.
var. eriantherus Pursh: Pollen sacs relatively broad, becoming opposite, 0.9-1.4 times as long as wide when fully mature. Corollas lavender, pale lilac, or pale to medium purple-violet, tending to be ascending and the whorls not appearing to be well separated. Great Plains and adjacent foothills and intermontane valleys, extending w. through n.w. MT, WA and s.e. B.C.
var. redactus Pennell & Keck: Pollen sacs mostly 1.4-2.0 times as long as wide when fully mature, scarcely to evidently opposite. Plants typically small, 10-20 cm tall, and narrow-leaved. Range s.w. MT to ID and OR.
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