Stems mainly subterranean, rhizomatous, aerial stems not viny, mostly less than 0.1 m (to 1.5 m in forms transitional to var. columbiana ), tufted. Leaf blade mostly 3-ternate, ± succulent; leaflets or lobes mostly 1.5-5 mm wide. Flowers: sepals violet-blue, 1.5-5 cm. 2 n = 16. Flowering late spring-early summer. Cliffs, rocky summits, usually in open sites or open pine forest; 1000-3000 m; Colo., Mont., N.Dak., S.Dak., Utah, Wyo.