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

Family: Gentianaceae

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

Comments

A beautiful flower - hard to see but so worth looking for it....

We agree!

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