Gentiana affinis (Pleated Gentian)

Plant Info
Also known as: Northern Gentian, Rocky Mountain Gentian, Prairie Gentian
Genus:Gentiana
Family:Gentianaceae (Gentian)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Status:
  • State Special Concern
Habitat:sun; moist, saline soils; prairies, meadows, wetland edges
Bloom season:August - September
Plant height:6 to 16 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: tubular Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flower] Single to a few flowers at the top of the stem and usually also arising from the upper leaf axils. Flowers in the terminal cluster are stalkless or nearly so and those in the axils are stalked. Flowers are 1 to 1½ inches long, erect, funnel-shaped with 5 widely spreading, sharply pointed, oval to triangular lobes. Between the lobes is connective, pleat-like tissue, ragged on the outer edge. The inner surface of lobes and pleats is bright blue variably covered with whitish to greenish spots; the inner surface to the tube is whitish with green streaks. Inside the tube is a column of pale-tipped stamens and a single style.

[photo of calyx] Outer surfaces are mostly light green. The calyx cupping the base of the flower is short tubular with four narrow lobes, variable in size but usually shorter than the floral tube, sometimes absent altogether or reduced to stubs.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are simple and opposite, narrowly lance-elliptic, 3/8 to 1½ inches long and to 3/8 inch wide, pointed or blunt at the tip, rounded or narrowed at the base, stalkless, toothless, and hairless except for short, stiff hairs around the edges. The lowest leaves are largest, becoming somewhat smaller and narrower as they ascend the stem. Leaf pairs are at right angles to the pair above and below. Stems are usually multiple from the base, erect to ascending or prostrate but rising at the tip (decumbent), unbranched, typically tinged reddish and are covered in minute, soft hairs.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

Fruit is a cylindric capsule ¾ to 1½ inches long, containing numerous small, flat seeds with narrow wings

Notes:

Pleated Gentian is one of the rarer Gentian species in Minnesota, reaching the eastern edge of its range in our western counties. Farther west, it is found in alpine meadows, bog edges and open forests, but here is primarily restricted to moist, saline wetlands and prairie remnants. According to the DNR, its ecological requirements in MN are not well understood but its preferred habitat is forever at risk from agriculture and invasive species. It was listed as a Special Concern species in 1984. While the spotted flowers are distinctive, it may be confused with the more common and very similar Downy Gentian (Gentiana puberulenta), which has larger flowers (1½ to 2+ inches) that are a deeper blue-violet and lack any spotting, and is found in dry, sandy soils.

Please visit our sponsors

  • Minnesota Native Plant Society

Where to buy native seed and plants ↓

Map of native plant purveyors in the upper midwest

  • Prairie Restorations - Bringing people together with the land
  • Shop for native seeds and plants at PrairieMoon.com!
  • Shooting Star Native Seeds - Native Prairie Grass and Wildflower Seeds
  • Morning Sky Greenery - Native Prairie Plants
  • Minnesota Native Landscapes - Your Ecological Problem Solvers

More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Pennington County.

Comments

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

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.



(required)




Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.