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Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Plant of the Week: Bottle Gentian
The introverted bottle gentian is all hue and no cry. This perennial, currently in brief bloom, displays richly violet, bottle-shaped flowers that never open. The corolla (petals) remains closed even when the flower is ready to receive pollinating insects. The burly bumblebee, consequently, is the plant’s primary pollinator, because it’s able to pry open the petals to get at the nectar and pollen. The petals usually feature five lobes, but they’re difficult to discern because of a taller, interconnecting fringe. Inside, the reproductive structures of the flower are fused together to form a central column. Multiple stems can emerge from the taproot of the plant, which is otherwise unbranched. The upper surfaces of its lance-shaped leaves are dark green and often shiny. Populations of bottle gentian plant are probably declining due to wetlands destruction.
Common Names: bottle gentian, closed gentian
Scientific Name: Gentiana andrewsii
Native Status: eastern North America; occasional in northern Illinois
Plant Type: herbaceous perennial
Height: 1–2 feet
Spread: 1–1.5 feet
Flowering Time: late summer–early fall
Flower Color: deep blue, purple
Interest: showy flowers suitable for wild flower, shade or native plant gardens; attracts bumblebees
Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo
By transforming the South Pond into Nature Boardwalk, Lincoln Park Zoo has created an urban ecosystem in the heart of the city. Enjoy a virtual view as native plants and animals establish themselves in this rare refuge.
As Lincoln Park Zoo’s director of horticulture, Brian oversees the zoo’s gardens, from bud to bloom.
As coordinator of wildlife management, Mason chronicles the bugs, birds, fish, insects, mammals and more that make their homes at Nature Boardwalk.
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