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:none
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: Mary Ann M - SW LINO LAKES ANOKA CO
on: 2017-08-22 20:24:56

Grows in our swamp. Blooms some years, most often in drier years.

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.

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