Contr. U.S. Natl. Herb. 20: 343. 1920.
Stems ascending to erect, (10–)13–36(–40) cm, glabrous or sparsely retrorsely hairy proximally, sometimes also sparsely glandular-pubescent. Leaves basal and cauline, not leathery, glabrous or sparsely retrorsely hairy along midvein; basal and proximal cauline petiolate, 16–75(–120) × 6–15(–22) mm, blade oblanceolate, base tapered, margins entire or sinuate-dentate, apex obtuse to acute; cauline 2–4 pairs, short-petiolate or sessile, 25–105 × 2–12 mm, blade lanceolate to linear, base tapered, margins entire or sinuate-dentate to dentate, apex acute, rarely obtuse. Thyrses interrupted to compact, secund, 6–20 cm, axis densely glandular-pubescent, verticillasters 4–9, cymes (1–)3–7-flowered, 2 per node; proximal bracts lanceolate, 12–70 × 2–8 mm; peduncles and pedicels glandular-pubescent. Flowers: calyx lobes lanceolate, 6–9 × 1.3–2.2 mm, glandular-pubescent; corolla lavender to violet, with deep violet nectar guides, ventricose-ampliate, 14–20(–22) mm, moderately white-pilose and glandular-pubescent internally abaxially, tube 5–8 mm, throat abruptly inflated, not constricted at orifice, 7–11 mm diam., rounded abaxially; stamens included, pollen sacs opposite, explanate, 0.8–1.2 mm, dehiscing completely, sutures smooth; staminode 11–13 mm, prominently exserted, 0.7–0.9 mm diam., tip recurved, distal 8–9 mm densely lanate, hairs yellow, to 2 mm, and medial hairs shorter, stiffer, and retrorse; style 11–13 mm. Capsules 6–11 × 5–6 mm.
Phenology: Flowering May–Jun.
Habitat: Sandy, gravelly, or clayey soils, sagebrush shrublands, pinyon-juniper and oak woodlands, ponderosa pine forests.
Elevation: 1500–2300 m.
Ariz., Colo., N.Mex., Utah.
Penstemon ophianthus is confused most often with P. jamesii and less often with P. breviculus.