The tubular, red, two inch-long flowers of penstemon barbatus
are two-lipped, the lower divided into three lobes, and bent strongly backwards (reflexed). The lower lip is hairy. Flowers are are held at the top of the rigid, lightly branched stem. Like all penstemon species, inside the flower tube are five stamens, one of which is infertile, here bearing a tuft of hairs, extending beyond the tip of the corolla. Flowers are supported by five short, pointed bracts, which, like the leaves and stems are hairless and not glandular. Leaves and stems may have a pale whitish covering. Blooming commonly occurs after spring rainfall and summer monsoons. This is a widespread species, found all across the Four Corners states, at moderate elevations.