Stems slender or rather stout, 2 to 7 feet high, from a perennial root, smooth below, usually finely pubescent above. Leaves alternate, lanceolate, finely toothed or entire, 2 to 7 inches long, one-third to 1 inch wide, the vipper ones smaller, all on very short petioles, long pointed at the apex, thin, the lateral veins joining one another in marginal loops. Flowers purple, rarely white, three-fourths to 11/2 inches broad in elongated, terminal, spikelike racemes; calyx tube cylindric, inclosing the ovary, four-lobed at the apex; petals four, obovate; stamens eight; capsules or fruit 2 to 3 inches long and about one-eighth of an inch thick, finely canescent; seeds numerous, small, with a long, whitish tuft of hairs.
In dry soil, usually on recently cleared or burned-over woodlands, Greenland to Alaska, south to North Carolina, Indiana, Kansas, Rocky mountains and California. Also in Europe and Asia. Flowering from July to September.
Memoir 15 N. Y. State Museum