|Also known as:||Closed Bottle Gentian, Andrew's Gentian|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; moist fields, thickets, edges of woods|
|Bloom season:||August - September|
|Plant height:||1 to 2 feet|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Flowers are 1 to 1½ inches long, tubular with pleats between each of the 5 fused petals; the 5 lobes overlap and have tiny fringe or teeth around the tip. They never open and resemble large buds. Color can vary greatly but is typically blue to purplish, occasionally pink or white. A cluster of flowers sits at the top of the main stem. Some plants have additional small clusters arising from the leaf axils in the upper part of the plant.
Leaves are up to 4 inches long and 2 inches wide, tapering to a point at the tip with no leaf stalk but not clasping the stem. There are fine, rough hairs around the edges and 3 to 7 parallel veins running the length of the leaf. The upper side of the leaf is glossy. Unlike many other plants, leaves tend to become larger as they ascend the stem. Attachment is opposite, except at the very top of the plant where there is a whorl of leaves beneath the flower cluster. The main stem is thick and smooth, light green or purplish.
Bottle Gentian plants tend to lean over as if under too much weight from the flower cluster, though the cluster tends to stay erect (decumbant). Bottle Gentian is pollinated almost exclusively by bumble bees because they are one of the few insects strong enough to pry open the closed flowers. Plants with white flowers may be confused with Yellow (or Cream) Gentian (Gentiana flavida), which has more clasping leaves and flowers that do open some at the top. Its flowers also typically have greenish venation on the petals. There are 2 varieties of Bottle Gentian in Minnesota, var. dakotica and var. andrewsii; the differences are very subtle.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey and Chisago counties. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka County.
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