Herbs. Stems ascending to erect, (20–)30–100 cm, puberulent to pubescent, sometimes glabrous, not glaucous. Leaves basal and cauline, not leathery, puberulent to pubescent, sometimes only along midvein and margins; basal and proximal cauline 40–150(–230) × 14–50(–70) mm, blade ovate to deltate-ovate, base truncate to tapered, margins serrate-dentate, apex obtuse to acute; cauline (3–)5–7 pairs, sessile, 25–80(–120) × 15–45(–70) mm, blade oblong to ovate or triangular-ovate, base clasping, margins serrate, apex acute. Thyrses interrupted, narrowly conic, 6–30 cm, axis densely glandular-pubescent, verticillasters 4–10, cymes 5–13-flowered, 2 per node; proximal bracts ovate to lanceolate, 11–35(–70) × 4–30(–45) mm, margins serrate, sometimes entire; peduncles and pedicels ascending to erect, densely glandular-pubescent. Flowers: calyx lobes ovate to lanceolate, (2–)3–5 × 0.9–1.6(–1.9) mm, margins narrowly scarious, sparsely to densely glandular-pubescent; corolla violet to blue or purple, with reddish purple nectar guides, funnelform, 15–22 mm, glandular-pubescent externally, densely white-villous internally abaxially, rarely glabrous, tube 5–6 mm, throat slightly inflated, 5–7 mm diam., 2-ridged abaxially; stamens included, pollen sacs opposite, navicular, 0.8–1.1 mm, dehiscing completely, connective splitting, sides glabrous, sutures smooth or papillate; staminode 9–12 mm, reaching orifice or slightly exserted, 0.3–0.4 mm diam., tip recurved, distal 1–2 mm densely pilose, hairs yellow, to 1.5 mm; style 9–12 mm. Capsules 4–6 × 2.5–4.5 mm, glabrous. 2n = 16.
Phenology: Flowering May–Aug.
Habitat: Open rocky slopes and woods.
Elevation: 10–900 m.
B.C., Oreg., Wash.
Penstemon ovatus is known in the Cascade Mountains from Multnomah County, Oregon, to southwestern British Columbia. The species is easily confused with the more eastern P. wilcoxii, which has a less glandular inflorescence. Herbarium specimens of P. ovatus also sometimes are misidentified as P. serrulatus, which has an eglandular inflorescence and saccate pollen sacs.