General: fibrous-rooted perennial herb, about 10-25 cm tall,
evidently covered with soft, white hairs.
Leaves: mainly basal, the blades elliptic to ovate or
oblong, about 2-5 cm long, rarely up to 7 cm, with small,
sharp teeth, tapering to the stalks, the stalks shorter or
almost as long as the blades. Stem leaves alternate,
stalkless, much smaller, especially the lowest ones.
Flowers: numerous in a dense, terminal spike, rarely as
much as 1.5 dm long. The bracts at the flower bases are
elliptical, the lowest ones seldom much narrower than the
others. Petals lacking, calyx with 2(3) unequal lobes, which
are joined toward the base, 4-5 mm long, not surrounding
the stamens and developing fruit. Stamens 2, projecting,
lavender to dull purplish blue, giving the flowers their color,
the filaments up to 12 mm long.
Flowering time: April-July.
Fruits: capsules, broadly oval, silky, 5-6 mm high and
about as wide, slightly notched at tip, slightly compressed.
Open slopes, from the foothills and high plains to rather
high elevations in the mountains, in w., c. and s.e. parts of
MT. Also in s. Alberta, and the e. half of ID to n. UT, e. to
SD, NE, and n. CO.