Gentiana andrewsii (Bottle Gentian)

Plant Info
Also known as: Closed Bottle Gentian, Andrew's Gentian
Genus:Gentiana
Family:Gentianaceae (Gentian)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
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):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: indistinct Flower shape: tubular Cluster type: flat Cluster type: round

[photo of flowers] 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 and stem: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] 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.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] The fused petals become a papery wrapping for a 1-inch capsule with the remains of the style at the top and a seam down the sides.

[photo of seeds] As the fruit ripens the seams split to release many seeds, each wrapped in papery wings to facilitate dispersal by wind.

Notes:

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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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey and Chisago counties. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka County.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Mary P.
on: 2008-06-08 17:01:32

No, I have not seen this plant in Ramsey County, but I saw it last year in Stearns County on one of my walks by the Mississippi River. I thought the plant had blue buds or possibly seed pods on it. Today on my research to find the names of wild flowers I took pictures of at Quarry Park yesterday, I saw your picture of the bottle gentian, and recognized it. Now I can label the picture I took of it last year.

Posted by: randy in St Paul
on: 2008-06-18 22:25:52

This grows at Lower Afton Park off of 10 - even in the dog park part.

Posted by: Kathy in Anoka County
on: 2008-09-14 10:32:56

I just saw two of these plants while trail riding at Bunker Park Stables. Really unique and beautiful. Love this site!

Posted by: Cindra in Anoka County
on: 2008-09-14 14:36:35

I saw this beautiful flower for the first time on 9.13.08 at Bunker Park Stable in Anoka Country while on a trail ride. What an amazing flower!! I had to ride past it twice to be sure to get all of the identifying items to look up when I got home. I am a trail guide for the stable and am always thrilled when I see a "new" wildflower growing in our fields. Throughout the growing season I share my passion for wildflowers with our riders so they hopefully leave with either a new-found appreciation or a rekindled enthusiasm for our hobby!!

Posted by: Keith
on: 2008-09-30 06:31:32

Took a walk through Crow Wing State Park over the past weekend and spotted this flower - had never seen one like it, so after getting home looked it up --- Colors were Blue and Purple ---

Posted by: Donn H
on: 2009-05-08 05:44:09

The plant is seen growing in a ditch along a road near Lake Darling at Alexandria, Minnesota.

Posted by: Dori in LeSueur County
on: 2009-08-23 19:29:52

Just discovered the Bottle Gentian growing in our CRP acreage today while my husband and I were checking out the wildflowers growing there. A very striking flower, worth stopping and taking a second look!

Posted by: Susan in Douglas, MN
on: 2009-08-28 11:59:03

I discovered Cream Gentian blooming yesterday in our little piece of prairie. I've never seen this plant before--lovely!

Posted by: kelly in isanti county
on: 2009-08-29 17:54:15

I found this flower in my horse pasture near a swamp in partial shade. I have lived in north Branch my entire life and have never seen this unique flower. Wow! It is so beautiful.

Posted by: jeepinJ in wathum/dexter area
on: 2009-09-03 00:16:45

Cool flower. Saw a bee open it up crawl in and come out a minute later. COOL.

Posted by: gail in mora, minnesota
on: 2009-09-05 13:33:09

We own 6 wooded and grassy areas on the Snake River, and I have noticed this little beauty in only 3 places on our property..I have sketched it many times, and taken pictures. Now I know what it is...lovely.

Posted by: John in Taylors Falls
on: 2009-09-06 22:37:12

This was growing out of a rock formation near the river.

Posted by: linda in Crow Wing County, Pelican Lake
on: 2009-09-07 08:51:26

MY husband and I started a wild flower garden about four years ago. We just spotted this beautiful flower today and quickly looked it up...we have two plants growing in partial shade....beautiful!!!

Posted by: Donna in Chengwatana state forest area
on: 2009-09-08 21:59:02

Only along a small area of the snowmobile trail- high up from the river in a grassy ditch area.

Posted by: Marcia in Pokegama Lake island, Itasca C
on: 2009-09-14 18:53:58

One of our guests at our cabin picked this flower while out on our boat visiting one of the islands on Pokegama Lake. I'd never seen this flower before. My husband was waiting for the blooms to "open", but they never did. After reading about the flower we now know the buds don't open. Awesome flower!

Posted by: Bert in southern Todd county
on: 2010-08-25 17:20:12

I found this flower today 8-25-10, on the edge of a swamp,where willows also grow. I picked a couple and brought them home, my wife thought they were really pretty and was excited to identify them on this website. We live in southern Todd County.

Posted by: Joel in Wild River State Park
on: 2010-08-26 16:03:59

We saw these today on our walk out from the Visitor's Center to St. Croix. Not a difficult walk for the average bear. Both a pale sky blue and an all white flower cluster were present. Perhaps twenty plus plants in all along fifty yards of trail. This was an exceptionally wet August, that might have something to do with the flowers, I had not seen them before.

Posted by: Rita in Itasca State Park
on: 2010-08-26 21:38:39

Laura W. was hiking when she noticed this flower near the path. She met me at Preacher's Grove and I asked her to use my camera to "capture" the Blue Bottle Gentian on her walk back to Douglas Lodge. I'm glad to have the photo, and happy to get information from this website. I Love Flowers!! Thank You.

Posted by: Susan in Douglas, MN
on: 2010-09-05 20:19:25

Tonight we found three different colors of bottle gentian growing in our prairie--cream. blue and white with pink edges. Last year we only found a few plants of creamy gentian. This year there must be a least thirty plants. Maybe burning the prairie last spring encouraged them.

Posted by: pam in Cass Co on the Crow Wing River
on: 2010-09-06 19:06:02

I own 4.5 acres on the Crow Wing River between Staples and Motley. I have a large colony of these blue flowers along the river growing in the shade of birch and pine. The seem to be more prolific after a spring of flooding.

Posted by: Heather in Minnetonka, Purgatory Park
on: 2010-09-09 15:57:15

There are a few of these growing along the creek wetland.

Posted by: Bill in Pennington County
on: 2010-09-13 12:52:32

I have found this flower blooming along the roadside at the edge of the woods in NW Pennington country Minnesota

Posted by: Nancy in Becker County, Tamarac Nat'l Wildlife Refuge
on: 2010-09-17 18:15:33

It was a real treat to discover this unique gem last September while strolling through the open prairie looking for Monarch larvae! I was able to take some great photos.

Posted by: Paul in Clearwater, MN, Mississippi River bank
on: 2010-09-22 07:54:46

I found a number of these plants while fishing south of Clear water, MN. They were on a very steep south shore bank. The stems were almost woody in appearance and were curled perhaps due to the weight of the bloom clusters. Color was pale purple with darker purple stripes on the in side of the pedals. A very neat flower.

Posted by: Cindy in brainerd, MN
on: 2011-09-02 19:46:06

I saw these flowers while walking along the Mississippi River in Crow Wing County in Brainerd, MN. There were very few plants seen and I wondered what kind of plant it was. The color is beautiful.

Posted by: Jennifer in Big Sandy Lake, MN
on: 2011-09-04 17:20:19

My mother-in-law was pulling her paddle boat ashore when she saw this beautiful flower. I took a picture of it and thought I'd try to identify it... I'm so glad I learned what it was! Nature never fails to stun, and this beautiful flower is proof!

Posted by: Cathy in Wild River State Park on the St. Croix
on: 2011-09-04 23:07:40

I took pictures of this flower which appears to be in the purple color and white. They are in bloom right now and I've not noticed them before on the river. they were very striking and beautiful

Posted by: chad in todd county-Browerville
on: 2011-09-05 08:37:44

Found many of these growing along Eagle Creek north of Browerville. Took pictures and identified them using this site.

Posted by: Bert in Todd County, Grey Eagle, Mn.
on: 2011-09-12 20:09:11

First found these flowers, in 2010 on August 25. I've been watching for them this summer and saw no signs of them till today Sept. 12,2011. It's exciting to find them again.

Posted by: Carol in Eden Prairie
on: 2011-09-16 15:22:28

Photographed this flower today on a walk along Purgatory Creek.

Posted by: luanne in William O'Brien State Park
on: 2011-09-26 09:46:09

Came upon both blue and white bottle gentian yesterday (Sept 25th)walking along the river trail in William Obrien State Park. Had never seen them in my 4 decades of walking around in Minnesota. AMAZING!!

Posted by: Steve in Quarry Park, Stearns County
on: 2011-10-01 17:15:46

I saw three blue bottle gentian plants yesterday (2011-09-30)on a walk through Quarry Park,which is on the west side of St. Cloud. I had never seen one before but was able to identify them due to their distinctive flower and leaf patters.

Posted by: Ronald in Freeborn Co., Freeborn township, Sec.# 2
on: 2011-11-13 15:45:18

We have this plant on our property, very good Fall for this plant. 2011.

Posted by: Neil in Otter Tail Co. near Leaf Lake
on: 2012-08-22 20:53:50

Discovered this plant on lowland acreage which until about eight years ago, was "Holstein pasture." Interesting to see the land revert to species that may have been growing there when my grandfather purchased the property in the early 1900's. Thanks to Ron H. for helping to identify this beautiful and exciting native plant.

Posted by: Catherine in East rabbit lake- Cuyauga
on: 2012-08-24 18:23:50

Wefound these beautiful flowers on the lot next to us. They are morepurple then blue.

Posted by: Julie in Crow Wing State Park, Along the Mississippi River
on: 2012-08-28 09:41:01

Saw (and photographed) the blue bottle gentian on a visit to Crow Wing State Park on 8/14/2012. Gorgeous! I hadn't seen one for more than 20 years, the last sighting being on Lake Alexander in Morrison County.

Posted by: Jane in Crosslake
on: 2012-09-03 09:24:53

We saw these on the shore of Cross near the Wharf Restaurant and again on Sand Island on Cross Lake, Crow Wing County. Sept 1, 2012..never noticed before in 60 years...

Posted by: Patty in Birchwood
on: 2012-09-13 05:42:43

I just saw these beautiful plants for the first time last weekend on a walk with my neighbor. She told me that they had been planted as part of an Eagle Scout project. Go Boy Scouts!

Posted by: Ellen in Woodside Tnsp, Otter Tail Co.
on: 2013-08-15 09:08:49

Finally! I know what this flower is. I happened across it on our 60acre hobby farm in a low damp spot just inside the edge of a wooded area.

Posted by: DALE in Blaine
on: 2013-08-19 10:26:12

Saw a number of these yesterday, 8/18/2013 in Blaine Preserve SNA. In very nice shape so they must be pretty new.

Posted by: David in Douglas county
on: 2013-09-06 18:24:22

I have this variety in my hosta bed on the bank going down to the lake.

Posted by: Brett in Otsego
on: 2013-09-07 11:27:38

Saw quite a few blooming on the east side of St.Croix State Park. While taking a picture of one, a small bumble bee just muscled its way totally inside the flower and disappeared. Could not get a quality shot of it emerging though :(

Posted by: Pam in Clearwater
on: 2013-09-12 10:35:54

I had never seen Bottle Gentian before, but now I have seen it twice in the last week, in two different places! First along the trail between Bear Paw campground and Douglas Lodge at Itasca state park. Secondly at Sibley state park along the interpretive trail by the Interpretive Center. Beautiful plant...stunning flowers. In both cases the flowers were very blue. I too wondered when it would open or if it only opened certain times of the day or under certain conditions. Now I know...it doesn't open at all. Looking through your wildflower site I have often wished I would run across it. So happy I did! Thanks for helping me to identify it.

Posted by: Kelly in International Falls
on: 2013-09-15 15:20:55

Just found these beautiful flowers on our property by our shoreline. I have pictures if you would like to see them. Awesome!!

Posted by: Colette in Sartell
on: 2013-09-18 20:25:08

I discovered this beautiful flower while walking through a 40-acre wooded parcel of our farmland. It had a cluster of 3 purple "bottles". I'm glad I discovered your website! Thanks.

Posted by: Steve in Quamba
on: 2013-10-12 11:38:37

I saw & photographed this plant in Kanabec county this September. It has the Beautiful Blue petals. I was suprized by how many weeks I returned to find it still brightening up the forest floor. I see on your Disribution Map, Kanabec county is not shaded. I'd be happy to help you verify the location. Thanks for your website!

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