Herbs perennial, 5--30 cm tall, drying slightly black. Roots fusiform. Stems single and erect or more than 10, unbranched, with 4 lines of hairs. Basal leaf petiole to 3--4 cm. Stem leaves in whorls of 4; petiole 0.5--2 cm; leaf blade linear-lanceolate, 0.7--4 cm X 2.5--8 mm, pinnatisect; segments 8--12 pairs, ovate-lanceolate to linear-lanceolate, pinnatifid, double dentate or incised-dentate. Inflorescences subcapitate or spicate and elongated to 10 cm, sometimes interrupted basally; bracts leaflike, ca. as long as flowers basally. Pedicel ± sessile. Calyx 8--9 mm, ca. 1/3 cleft anteriorly, densely pilose along veins; lobes 5, unequal, posterior one triangular, entire, lateral lobes larger, serrate. Corolla purple-red to white, sometimes yellow; tube almost erect when young, becoming bent at a right angle basally, to 1.1--1.4 cm; galea falcate, ca. 1 cm, apex with a short conical beak or beakless; lower lip 8--10 mm X 1--1.2 cm, lobes rounded. Filaments sparsely pubescent basally, glabrous apically. Capsule lanceolate-triangular, ca. 1.6 cm X 5.5 mm, ca. 1/2 exceeding calyx. Seeds ca. 2 mm. Fl. Jun--Aug, fr. Jul--Sep.
Stony and gravelly slopes near summits, grassy slopes and banks, damp sandy areas along streams, Betula forests; 2100--5200 m. E, SW, and W Gansu, Qinghai, Xinjiang, N and W Xizang [Afghanistan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan]
Also see an article on the species complex by Arti Garg (Taiwania 54(3): 266-272. 2009), which appeared after publication of the Flora of China treatment.