Perennial from a shallow, branched caudex. Stems erect to ascending, 10–90 cm, simple or branched above, glabrate to sericeous. Leaves mostly cauline; lower petioles 2–15 cm long; leaflets 5 to 11, strigose to sericeous, sometimes glabrate above, 2–7 cm long with acute tips. Racemes moderately dense, greater than the leaves, 2–15 cm long. Flowers blue; calyx tube 1–3 mm long, flush with the pedicel or distended into a spur <1 mm long; upper lip 1–4 mm long; lower lip slightly longer; banner 4–11 mm long, glabrous or nearly so, reflexed <45°; wings 5–13 mm long. Legume 8–25 mm long (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX)
The five varieties occuring in Montana are: argenteus
(Rydb.) Barneby, depressus
(Rydb.) C.L. Hitchc., parviflorus
(Nutt. ex Hook. & Arn.) C.L. Hitchc., and rubricaulis
(Greene) S.L. Welsh.
Grasslands, sagebrush steppe, open forest, woodlands, fellfields; plains, valleys to alpine (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX)