Fuzzytongue penstemon is a very attractive perennial wildflower with one to several erect to decumbent stems arising 10-40 cm from a cluster of short, leafy, sterile shoots below. The herbage is mostly finely pubescent. The leaves are narrowly lance-shaped, oblanceolate or nearly linear with some leaves toothed, others with entire margins.
The inflorescence is a narrow panicle of 3-6 spaced verticillasters Each verticillaster appears to circle the stem. Each flower cluster arises from the leaf axil with 2-5 flowers on short stems. The calyx is usually very glandular and measures from 4-13 mm long. The individual sepals are lanceolate with green margins. The corolla consists of an expanding tube with the petal lobes well-reflexed and the palate bearded with long yellow hairs. The corolla is typically lavender to blue or purple with darker guide lines on the lobes, extending to the interior of the tube. The corollas measure from 15-35 mm long. The anthers are glabrous, mostly opposite, boat-shaped, and splitting their full length. The staminode is glabrous to sparsely bearded (and not extending past the throat) in variety argillosus wile it is densely bearded with long, yellow hairs and well-extended beyond the throat onto the palate in the other varieties.
Variety argillosus: Staminode included within corolla tube or just reaching the throat. Staminode glabrous or with a yellow beard. Leaves ash-colored, densely covered with short hairs and markedly toothed. Stems pubescent and 30-40 cm high. Plants of the Deschutes and John Day River drainages in central Oregon.
Variety cleburnei: Found in north-central Wyoming.
Variety eriantherus: Staminode exserted well beyond the throat of the corolla with noticeable orange beard. Anther sacs flattened and broad, about as long as broad with long sections of contact between the two halves.
Variety redactus: Staminode exserted well beyond the throat of the corolla with noticeable orange beard. Anther sacs mostly boat-shaped and oval, about 1.5-2.5 times as long as wide with a relatively short line of contact. Upper stem leaves sessile, about 5-10 times as long as wide. Calyx from 4-6 mm long. Plants of Baker and Union Counties in Oregon east through central Idaho to southwestern Montana.
Variety whitedii: Staminode exserted well beyond the throat of the corolla with noticeable orange beard. Anther sacs mostly boat-shaped and oval, about 1.5-2.5 times as long as wide with a relatively short line of contact. Upper stem leaves heart-shaped and clasping, about 3-4 times as long as wide. Calyx 7-12 mm long. Plants of Chelan and Douglas Counties in central Washington.
Fuzzytongue penstemon may be found on dry, open ground from the prairies into the mountains.
Fuzzytongue penstemon may be found from southeastern British Columbia south to central Oregon and Idaho and east to North Dakota and Wyoming.