Prodr. 10: 323. 1846.
Stems ascending to erect, (5–) 9–40 cm, glabrous. Leaves basal and cauline, glabrous; basal and proximal cauline 15–140 × 2–27 mm, blade spatulate to oblanceolate or lanceolate, base tapered, apex obtuse to acute, sometimes rounded or mucronate; cauline 2–4 (–6) pairs, sessile, (11–) 18–85 × (3–) 5–28 (–32) mm, blade ovate to lanceolate, base clasping or cordate-clasping, apex acuminate to acute, sometimes mucronate. Thyrses ± interrupted, cylindric, (2–) 5–20 cm, axis glabrous, verticillasters (2–) 4–10, cymes 2–5-flowered; proximal bracts orbiculate to ovate or lanceolate, 19–70 × 7–28 mm; peduncles and pedicels glabrous, peduncles to 3 mm. Flowers: calyx lobes ovate to lanceolate, 3–7.5 × (0.8–) 1.2–1.8 mm, margins entire or erose, narrowly scarious, glabrous; corolla blue to violet, with reddish violet nectar guides, tubular-funnelform, (10–) 13–15 (–18) mm, glabrous externally, glabrous or sparsely white-villous internally abaxially, tube 4–6 mm, throat gradually inflated, 4–6 mm diam., rounded abaxially; stamens included or longer pair reaching orifice to slightly exserted, pollen-sacs opposite, 0.7–1.2 mm, sutures papillate; staminode 8–11 mm, reaching orifice or slightly exserted, 0.8–1.5 mm diam., tip strongly recurved, distal 3–4 mm densely villous, hairs golden yellow, to 1.5 mm, hairs on proximal part of staminode mostly along margins; style 8–10 mm. Capsules 9–13 × 5–8 mm.
Alta., B.C., Man., Sask., Idaho, Mont., N.Dak., S.Dak., Wyo.
Varieties 2 (2 in the flora).
Some specimens of Penstemon nitidus from western Montana are referable to variety with difficulty.
|1||Proximal bracts orbiculate to ovate, rarely lanceolate; calyx lobes ovate to lanceolate, 3–6.5 mm; Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming.||Penstemon nitidus var. nitidus|
|1||Proximal bracts ovate to lanceolate; calyx lobes lanceolate, (3.2–)5–7.5 mm; Idaho, Montana.||Penstemon nitidus var. polyphyllus|
"/4+timescorollathroat" is not declared as a valid unit of measurement for this property.