This species was found by Joseph Rock at Muti Konka (Maidi Gangga) in Muli (Sichuan). The images shown here are from 75 kms to the north of this location. Rock's collection was first identified as P. pulchella which is similar but violet-purple flowered and with the calyx cut to the middle or more. In its original description, P. fernaldiana is compared with P. knuthiana by which it differs in location (P. knuthiana is from Shaanxi), by having a longer capsule (P. knuthiana has a capsule included in the calyx), and a longer corolla tube. W.W. Smith noted that collection Wilson 3163 from "Monkong Ping" (near present day Danba, Sichuan, was first identified as P. knuthiana but is referable to P. fernaldiana. This is actually nearer to the type location for P. fangii, a very closely related species which differs by having a shorter corolla tube of 8-10mm (10-13mm in P. fernaldiana), and having the style as long as the tube in pin flowers (style reaching middle in P. fernaldiana). The are also differences in the leaves.
P. fernaldiana has oblanceolate to obovate leaves, pale-yellow or whitish farina below, round at the apex, narrowed into a winged petiole and with a entire or obscurely denticulate margin. The scape is efarinose with an umbel of 5-10 bluish-purple flowers held on pedicels of 2-4cm with slightly farinose, linear bracts. Calyx campanulate, farinose inside and out, prominently 5-nerved, parted to 1/3 to 1/2 into oblong-lanceolate lobes with an apex that varies from obtuse to acute. In pin flowers the style is half way up the corolla tube. Capsule is 2x the length of the calyx. See related species: P. fangii, P. knuthiana, P. pulchella, P. pulchelloides.