Perennial herb from a mix of coarse fibrous and tuberous-thickened roots, smooth except long-hairy in the inflorescence; stems single or clustered, erect, 30-100 cm tall, unbranched.
Basal leaves similar to the stem leaves but longer-stalked, or much smaller or lacking; stem leaves alternate, short-stalked to unstalked, 7-16 cm long, deeply pinnately cleft into narrowly oblong to lanceolate segments, the main segments 1-7 cm long, jaggedly incised and also finely saw-toothed or merely double-toothed, the leaves reduced and less divided upward.
Inflorescence a dense, elongate, terminal spike of numerous flowers, above several hairy, leaflike but undivided bracts; corollas yellow or tinged with red or purple to wholly purple, 13-21 mm long, 2-lipped, the upper lip hood-like, beakless or very short-beaked, about as long as the tube, the lower lip 3-lobed; calyces 7-10 mm long, hairy, 5-lobed, the lobes glandular-hairy to nearly smooth, the upper lobe shortest; stamens 4.
Capsules, asymmetrical, flattened, curved, smooth, 10-12 mm long; seeds several, 2-5 mm long, net-veined.
Two varieties occur in BC
1. Free tips of the lateral calyx-lobes very slender, threadlike, glandular; the common variety................... var. bracteosa
1. Free tips of the lateral calyx-lobes lanceolate to triangular, sparsely or not at all glandular; infrequent in C and S BC........................... var. latifolia (Pennell) Cronq.