Penstemon digitalis is an erect, unbranched herb 0.4-2 m tall, from rhizomes, stems shiny, hairless to very finely hairy, sometimes waxy-whitish or purplish.
Leaves opposite, stalks of winter rosette leaves to 8 cm long, stem leaves stalkless (sessile), blade 7-21 cm long, 2-4.5 cm wide, reduced in inflorescence grading into small bracts, tip pointed, base rounded, margin finely toothed.
Flowers white or pale purplish, bilaterally symmetrical, tubular, 2.2-3 cm long, corolla 2-lipped, upper lip 2-lobed, lower lip 3-lobed, lobe tips rounded, upper part of tube strongly inflated to 1-1.5 cm wide, constricted at base; sepals 5, 0.-0.7 cm long, glandular hairy (use lens); fertile stamens 4, anthers purple, bristly, sterile anther (staminode) sparsely hairy; style simple 2 cm long; inflorescence branched, open (panicle) blooms May-June.
Fruit dry 2-parted conical capsule 0.8-1.2 cm long, with numerous small, angular seeds to 0.1 cm long; fruits July-Aug., seeds dispersed through fall (Radford et al. 1968; Levine 1995;Yatskievych 2006).
Wetland status: FAC.
Frequency in NYC: Very infrequent.
Origin: North and west of NYS.
Habitat: Part shade, edges and meadows, second growth, soil pH 5.5-7, tolerant of drought, shade, somewhat tolerant of salt, fire, intolerant of anaerobic soils (USDA, NRCS 2006).