This native perennial wildflower is 1½3' tall, consisting of some basal leaves and a flowering stem with alternate leaves. The basal leaves are up to 4" long and 4" across; each basal leaf is palmately divided into 3-5 segments, and each of these segments are subdivided into linear lobes about 3-4 mm. across. The slender petioles of the basal leaves are up to 4" long. The alternate leaves are similar in appearance to the basal leaves, except they become smaller while ascending the stem and their petioles are shorter. The basal leaves, alternate leaves, and the petioles are finely pubescent and whitish green to green. The central stem is terete, short-pubescent, and whitish green; it is unbranched or sparingly branched where the floral racemes occur. The central stem terminates in an elongated raceme of flowers about ½1' long; sometimes there are 1 or 2 lateral racemes that are shorter. Individual flowers are about 1" long and 1" across; depending on the local ecotype, they vary in color from light blue to deep blue-violet. Each flower consists of 5 sepals, 4 petals, 3 pistils, and numerous stamens. The petal-like sepals flare outward and they have rounded tips; the base of the uppermost sepal forms the ascending nectar spur, which curves upward. Near the tip of each sepal, there is often a patch of green. The small upper petals form a short hood over the throat of the flower and their bases extend into the nectar spur; they are often more white or light-colored than the lower petals or sepals. The lower petals are cleft and covered with fine woolly hairs; sometimes they are slightly purple. The pedicel of each flower is about 1" long and ascending; it has a pair of tiny linear bracts toward the middle. Near the base of each pedicel, there is a single linear bract that is larger in size and ascending. The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer and lasts about 3-4 weeks. Each flower lasts about 1 week; several flowers are often in bloom at the same time. Each flower is replaced by a cluster of 3 seedpods (technically, follicles) that are joined together at the base. The individual seedpods are about ½¾" long, angular in shape, and beaked; they are held erect. Each seedpod splits open along the inner side to release its seeds. The angular seeds are short-oblongoid with appressed scales; they are slightly winged along their margins. The root system is coarsely fibrous. Reproduction is by seed.