Notul. Nat. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 71: 14. 1941.
Herbs. Stems erect, 10–31 cm, retrorsely hairy, not glaucous. Leaves basal and cauline, not leathery, glabrous or retrorsely hairy primarily along midvein and margins; basal and proximal cauline 14–75 × 4–16 mm, blade ovate to lanceolate or elliptic, base tapered, margins entire or ± serrate distally, apex obtuse to acute; cauline 3–5 pairs, sessile or proximals short-petiolate, 15–45 × 2–8 mm, blade oblanceolate to lanceolate, base tapered, margins entire or ± serrate or ± dentate, primarily distally, apex obtuse to acute. Thyrses interrupted, cylindric, 4–18 cm, axis retrorsely hairy proximally, sparsely glandular-pubescent distally, verticillasters 2–5, cymes 2–6-flowered, (1 or)2 per node; proximal bracts lanceolate, 9–38 × 2–12 mm, margins entire or ± serrate distally; peduncles and pedicels ascending, sparsely glandular-pubescent. Flowers: calyx lobes ovate, 3–4 × 1–2 mm, sparsely glandular-pubescent; corolla violet to blue or purple, with purple nectar guides, funnelform, 14–23 mm, glandular-pubescent externally, ± white-pubescent internally abaxially, tube 4–6 mm, throat gradually inflated, 5–6 mm diam., slightly 2-ridged abaxially; stamens included, pollen sacs opposite, navicular, 0.9–1.2 mm, dehiscing completely, connective splitting, sides glabrous, sutures smooth; staminode 9–12 mm, reaching orifice, 0.4–0.6 mm diam., tip straight, distal 0.5–2 mm pilose, hairs yellow or golden yellow, to 0.8 mm; style 9–13 mm. Capsules 5–8 × 3.5–5 mm, glabrous.
Phenology: Flowering May–Jun.
Habitat: Rocky, granitic meadows and hillsides.
Elevation: 900–1800 m.
Penstemon elegantulus occurs largely in the Hell’s Canyon region of the Snake River in Idaho and Nez Perce counties, Idaho, and Wallowa County, Oregon. A specimen from near Silver City in Owyhee County, Idaho (Hitchcock & Muhlick 22585, WTU), also appears to be this species. Penstemon elegantulus combines morphologic features of P. albertinus and P. humilis; it generally has obscurely serrate leaves as in the former, and retrorsely hairy leaves and stems as in the latter.