This beardtongue is rare in Florida, occurring in hammocks only in Gadsden and Jackson Counties. The range includes the entire southeastern U.S. west into Louisiana and Arkansas, north into Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and along the Atlantic Coast as far as Massachusetts.
The flowers of eastern smooth beardtongue are irregular, narrowly tubular and flaring out to five lobes, with two lobes on the upper lip and three on the lower. The corolla is light purple, sometimes pale to almost white, often with dark purple lines on the inside of the flower. The flowers are up to 3cm long (1.2 in.) with very short sepals of less than 5mm (.2in.). Penstemon laevigatus
stems are glabrous and the plants can be up to a meter (39in.) tall. The lanceolate leaves are opposite, up to 13cm (5in.) long with the upper leaves clasping and the lower leaves having long petioles.
This plant was named Bartramia pulchella
to honor John Bartram by British botanist Richard Anthony Salisbury, but Scottish botanist William Aiton's name Penstemon laevigatus
preceded Bartramia. It did not help that Salisbury shunned the Linnean system, a factor contributing to nearly all of his generic names being overturned.