Gentianopsis virgata (Lesser Fringed Gentian)

Plant Info
Also known as: Smaller Fringed Gentian
Family:Gentianaceae (Gentian)
Life cycle:annual
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist soil; wet meadows, thickets, stream banks, low woods
Bloom season:August - September
Plant height:3 to 18 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: OBL MW: OBL NCNE: OBL
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: 4-petals Flower shape: tubular

[photo of flower] Blooms are singular on slender stalks at the end of the main stem and arising from leaf axils in the upper plant. The trumpet shaped, royal blue to blue-violet flowers are 1 to 2 inches long. with 4 rounded spatula shaped lobes that have short fringe or fine teeth around the edges. Inside the floral tube are 4 yellow to orangish stamens and a creamy white style.

[photo of calyx] The white and blue striped throat is enclosed by a green calyx with 4 unequal lobes, some round and tapered others narrower, lance-like or awl-shaped with a long taper to a pointed tip. The ridged midvein on the calyx lobes extends onto the stalk. A plant has 1 to 6 flowers, often only 1 blooming at a time.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are 1 to 1½ inches long, ¼ to 1/3 inch wide, opposite, toothless, hairless, stalkless. Basal and lowest leaves are spatulate or elliptic with rounded tips, upper leaves narrow to linear lance shaped. The erect stems are slender and smooth, unbranched or a few branches narrowly angled to the main stem.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of developing fruit] Fruit is a narrowly elliptic capsule up to about 1 inch long, containing many seeds.


Very similar to Greater Fringed Gentian (Gentianopsis crinita), which is a larger plant overall with larger, broader leaves and longer fringing on the petal lobes. Lesser Fringed Gentian, formerly Gentiana procera or Gentianopsis procera, is easy to miss in the wild, as its often spindly, low to the ground and hidden in taller grasses. The spot of bright blue is an eye-catcher for those who are observant.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Dodge County. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Dodge and Pope counties.


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

Posted by: Trista - Glacial Lakes State Park, Starbuck, MN
on: 2012-09-02 16:12:55

These can be spotted fairly easily throughout the native and restored prairie of Glacial Lakes State Park if you are willing to hike a few miles in.

Posted by: Terri - Plover Prairie
on: 2017-09-18 12:08:17

Found with other wet prairie species such as bottle gentian, small white lady slipper, sedges, and meadow blazing star.

Posted by: Don Kaddatz - Roscoe Prairie SNA/TNC
on: 2020-09-07 15:57:40

Very abundant along the western edge of this prairie as it meets the road ditch near the Prairie sign and parking location

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