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Perennial tufted herb from a fibrous root; stems simple or sometimes branched, flat, winged, 10-42 cm tall.
Mostly basal, the blades several, linear, 10-30 cm long, (0.5) 2-2.5 (4.5) mm wide, sheathing, the margins entire to fine-toothed, the tips long-pointed; stem leaves 1 or few at the nodes, similar to basal.
Inflorescence of 2 to 7 showy, erect to nodding flowers on slender, smooth to slightly glandular, 2- to 2.5-cm long stalks; flowers pale blue to purple or deep violet-purple, of 6 distinct, narrowly elliptic to oblanceolate segments, these similar, 1-1.5 (2) cm long, rounded to blunt, abruptly bristle-tipped, the tubes slightly inflated below, 1-2 mm long; bracts 2, unequal, the outer one usually exceeding the flowers; filaments fused about 1/3 their length; anthers (1) 1.3-2 (2.5) mm long, yellow.
Capsules, egg-shaped to globe-shaped, 4-5.5 (6.5) mm long; seeds numerous, globe-shaped to angled, black, (1) 1.3-1.8 mm wide.
Two varieties occur in BC while a third, var. segetum, known from the nearby San Juan Islands in NW WA may be found in BC in the future.
1. Stems usually averaging at least 2 mm wide; perianth segments usually less than 1.5 cm long................... var. idahoense
1. Stems usually averaging less than 1.5 mm wide; perianth segments usually more than 1.5 cm long.
2. Outer bracts at least twice as long as inner bracts; perianth usually more than 1.8 cm long; stems less than 1.5 mm wide..................... var. macounii (Bickn.) Henderson
2. Outer bracts usually less than twice as long as the inner bracts; perianth 1.5-1.8 cm long; stems usually less than 1.2 mm wide...................... var. segetum (Bickn.) Henderson
Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia