Overview

Comprehensive Description

Comments

This is one of the most beautiful plants on the prairie during the fall, with exceptionally vivid blue-violet flowers. Prairie Gentian can be distinguished from other gentians that occur within the state by its more open corolla and its small, reflexed lobes. It is also has fine white hairs on the stems and at the base of the leaves, but they are often hard to see. Another scientific name for this plant is Gentiana puberula; another common name is 'Downy Gentian.' Return
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Description

This native perennial plant is unbranched and about ¾–1½' tall. The central stem is slightly reddish and has lines of minute white hairs that are difficult to see. The leaves are up to 3" long and 1¼" across. They are oppositely arranged along the central stem, except at the apex of the plant, where they occur in a whorl of 3-7 smaller leaves. They are lanceolate, sessile, and have smooth margins. On each leaf, there may be minute pubescence along the central vein at the base, otherwise the texture tends to be shiny. Two smaller side veins run parallel to the central vein. One or more clusters of 1-8 flowers occur at or near the apex of the plant. The inflorescence is sessile at the topmost whorl of leaves, otherwise the flowers occur on short stalks from the axils of the upper opposite leaves. The violet-blue flowers are about 2" long and 1" across when fully open. The corolla is tubular and vase-shaped, but divides into 5 small triangular lobes that reflex outward. Within the corolla, there is a prominent stigma with a divided white tip, which is surrounded by 5 stamens with white anthers. The outer sides of the corolla contain some patches of greenish violet, while it becomes whitish green near the base on the inside.  The blooming period occurs during the fall, and lasts about a month. There is no noticeable floral fragrance. The seed capsules split into 2 sections, releasing numerous small seeds that can be dispersed by wind or water. The root system consists of a long stout taproot with a few lateral roots.
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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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NW Yunnan.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Annuals 2-3.5 cm tall. Stems erect, much branched from base, with short branches, glabrous. Leaf blade spatulate to obovate, hirsute and glabrescent, margin long ciliate, apex rounded, veins 1-3. Basal leaves withered at anthesis; petiole 0.5-1 mm; leaf blade 0.9-1.2 cm × 4.5-8 mm. Stem leaves crowded; petiole 0.5-0.7 mm, entirely connate, hirsute; leaf blade 4-6 × 1.7-3.5 mm, as long as or longer than internodes. Flowers few to many. Pedicel 2-4 mm, surrounded by upper leaves, glabrous. Calyx tubular to narrowly obconic, 7.5-11 mm, outside hirsute and glabrescent; lobes ovate-lanceolate, 2-2.5 mm, margin long ciliate, apex acuminate and caudate, midvein distinct. Corolla greenish yellow or inside sometimes pale blue, tubular, ca. 1.4 cm, glabrous; lobes ovate-lan-ceolate, 1.5-2.5 mm, margin entire, apex acute and caudate; plicae broadly ovate, 1.2-1.5 mm, margin entire or erose, apex rounded. Stamens inserted at middle of corolla tube, unequal; filaments 2.5-6 mm; anthers ellipsoid, 0.8-1 mm. Style 1.5-2 mm; stigma lobes narrowly oblong. Capsules obovoid, 8-9 mm; gynophore to 1.3 cm. Seeds light brown, ellipsoid, 1.2-1.5 mm. Fl. and fr. May.
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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Gentiana puberula Franchet (1890), not Michaux (1803).
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Ecology

Habitat

* Grassland slopes; 2400-3800 m.
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Associations

Faunal Associations

Bumblebees are attracted to the nectar of the flowers and cross-pollinate them. Some beetles may knaw on the flowers or eat the seeds, such as Epicauta pensylvanica (Black Blister Beetle). The seeds are too small to be of much interest to birds. Most mammalian herbivores usually don't bother this plant because the leaves are bitter, although White-Tailed Deer may chomp off the upper half of its leafy stems. Overall, the value of this plant to wildlife is low. Photographic Location
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Flower-Visiting Insects of Prairie Gentian in Illinois

Gentian puberulenta (Prairie Gentian)
(Also referred to as Gentiana puberula and Downy Gentian; bumblebees suck nectar; this observation is from Robertson)

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Bombini): Bombus pensylvanica

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Gentiana puberulenta

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N2 - Imperiled

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is full sun and average to dry soil. The soil texture can consist of rich loam, clay-loam, or contain some gravel. Prairie Gentian is often difficult to start from seed, but fairly easy to establish from transplants. Foliar disease rarely bothers the leaves. This plant is quite drought resistant. Range & Habitat
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