Gentiana flavida (Yellow Gentian)

Plant Info
Also known as: Cream Gentian, Pale Gentian, Plain Gentian
Family:Gentianaceae (Gentian)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist soil; open woods, meadows
Bloom season:August - October
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
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] The 1½ to 2-inch tubular yellowish white flowers form a stalkless cluster on the end of the stem but several flowers may also be produced in leaf axils in the upper plant. The petal tube faces up, the 5 short toothed lobes barely opening. The petals are covered in greenish yellow venation.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are 2 to 5 inches long, 1 to 2 inches wide, broadly rounded or somewhat heart-shaped at the base, tapered to a pointed tip, opposite except for a whorl of leaves just below the terminal flower cluster. The surfaces and edges smooth and glossy with 3 veins underneath, stalkless, the base of leaf pairs often touching. Stems are hairless and mostly unbranched.


Similar to Bottle Gentian (Gentiana andrewsii) which can sometimes be white but its flowers remain closed, the overlapping flower lobes are rounded with fine teeth at their tips. The leaves on Bottle Gentian are over-all smaller, 3-7 nerved, have rough edges, and the bases of leaf pairs do not touch. Yellow Gentian often goes by Latin name Gentiana alba, but the accepted name in Minnesota is G. flavida.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Whitewater State Park. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Fillmore County and a private garden in Anoka County.


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

Posted by: maia - Lebanon Hills Regional park, Dakota county
on: 2012-08-18 22:35:35

On trail around McDonough Lake

Posted by: Lisa - Richard J. Dorer Forest
on: 2012-08-21 23:49:13

About 3 miles outside Preston, in a couple places on the edge of the forest road. A new flower for me!

Posted by: Keith - Riverbend Nature Center Faribault, MN
on: 2014-08-21 20:50:42

I found about ten plants growing in a measure in River Bend Nature Center.

Posted by: Patty - Chester Woods County Park, Rochester, MN
on: 2015-11-04 17:15:14

Located on the west side of the park.

Posted by: Becky - William O'Brian State Park
on: 2016-07-11 09:35:21

I saw many on the Wedge Hill trail at William O'Brian.

Posted by: Janet - Old Mill State Park-Pennington County
on: 2016-08-23 18:43:19

On trails and roadsides within the park.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2016-08-23 18:53:33

Janet, what you see in NW MN is a white form of bottle gentian (Gentiana andrewsii). G. flavida has a limited range in the SE quarter of the state. See the county distribution map.

Posted by: David - Kandiyohi County
on: 2016-08-25 16:59:53

I found the creamy gentian g. flavida growing in a pollinator planting, a prairie restoration that I planted back in 2010, date of siting was 8 24-2016. This species may have been present in the pollinator seed mix but was not labeled as being present in the seed mix. However it is most welcome.

Posted by: Kenny h - East of rose creek on shooting star trail
on: 2017-08-17 21:56:42

These beauties are just starting to bloom...nice large colony growing halfway between Adams and Rose Creek...I noticed alot of leaf yellowing...whats that all about.

Posted by: Jeff N - McLeod County
on: 2017-08-28 16:14:07

Many of them on a public hunting area.

Posted by: Ryan L. - Saint Paul, MN
on: 2018-01-18 19:22:15

I found a decent patch of this growing in a prairie area in Battle Creek Park last fall. Not sure if it was planted/restored or naturally occurring. Very different from the bluish bottle gentian in my native garden!

Posted by: John L. - Medina, Hennepin County
on: 2018-01-19 09:33:38

There is a colony in an old field in my backyard. They are not white Bottle Gentian, the flowers are not closed.

Posted by: Linda Thomas - Oronoco- SE MN - Olmsted County
on: 2018-08-27 22:38:14

Many plants growing on full sun unmowed hill (25 yrs) on our property that also has goldenrod, coneflowers, monarda, yarrow, asters, clover, etc. that occurred naturally.

Posted by: Vickie Anderson - Kittson County
on: 2019-09-03 20:30:44

Several plants in a ditch along our section road. We've also had the purple/lavender variety. I took several pictures.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2019-09-04 05:59:54

Vickie, this species isn't likely to be naturally occurring in Kittson County so what you more likely saw was a white form of the more common bottle gentian.

Posted by: Daniela Bell - Bruce Vento Naure Sanctuary
on: 2020-08-29 11:17:22

I think the ones I saw were Pale Gentian and not white variety of Bottle Gentian, flowers not as tightly closed as those of the Bottle Gentian. This is the first year I've noticed them in the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary / Wakan Tipi.

Posted by: George - Private property in Washington Cty. Lake Elmo
on: 2020-09-02 15:16:50

This area was a corn field in 1994. We planted bluestem grasses and wildflower plugs from WI and IA but no plain gentian to our knowledge. Several stems grow within an area of approximately twenty five square feet.In mid-August the blooming plant was identified through a photo sumitted to the app "Picture This".

Posted by: Gail Gates - On my daughter's land near Nerstrand, MN.
on: 2021-08-28 15:51:24

There only appeared to be the one plant on the edge of their meadow.

Posted by: Brett W - Scandia
on: 2021-08-29 15:31:28

Wind in the Pines. First visit since December 2015 though.

Posted by: Michael J Farrell - Eden Prairie
on: 2022-07-17 11:17:23

Growing in our prairie restoration in our yard. Has spread a lot in the past 5 years. Seed mix came from Prairie Restoration back in 2001. Not listed in their mix.

Posted by: James Fisher - Forest township, Rice County
on: 2022-08-28 10:04:03

Roadsides Fairbanks Ave , blooming Aug 27, 2022

Posted by: Elizabeth Bryant - Eagan
on: 2022-10-06 17:15:11

One plant alongside the walking trail in Lebanon Hills Park. Very distinctive flower buds.

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