Low-shrubby perennial herb, woody at the base, with or without a taproot; stems much-branched, creeping, forming dense mats; flowering shoots 5-10 cm tall, minutely hairy.
Opposite, evergreen, smooth but sometimes glandular-spotted, primary leaves short-stalked, thick and firm, the blades elliptic to circular, entire or minutely saw-toothed, 0.5-2 cm long, usually blunt-tipped; leaves of the flowering shoots few, unstalked, small, often bract-like, less than 1 cm long.
Inflorescence a compact, few-flowered, terminal raceme, the bracts and stalks somewhat glandular-hairy; corollas purple to blue-lavender, tubular, 2-3.5 cm long, distinctly 2-lipped, smooth on the outside, hairy within on the lower lip near its base and on a pair of hairy ridges; calyces 7-10 mm long, smooth to thinly glandular-hairy, 5-lobed, the lobes lanceolate to narrowly egg-shaped; fertile stamens 4, the anthers densely white-woolly; sterile stamen half as long as the fertile stamens, long yellow-bearded toward the tip.
Capsules, 8-11 mm long; seeds numerous, angled, narrowly winged, about 1.5 mm long.
Two sympatric, poorly defined (at least in BC) varieties occur in BC:
1. Leaves entire, tending to be broadest above the middle; infrequent................. var. davidsonii
1. Leaves minutely saw-toothed, tending to be broadest near or below the middle; the common variety.................. var. menziesii (Keck) Cronq.
Synonyms and Alternate Names:
Penstemon menziesii subsp. davidsonii (Greene) Piper
Penstemon menziesii subsp. thompsonii Pennell