Native Plant of the Week: Bottle Gentian ~ Gentiana andrewsii

Bottle Gentian ~ Gentiana andrewsii

Bottle Gentian has one of the most interesting flower forms of native perennials. The balloon like blooms are comprised of 5 blue (sometimes white or pink) petals that are neatly folded together forming a closed flower. There is a small opening at the top, and bumble bees will force their way down the flower in search of nectar.

But why go to so much work when you can just chew the ends of the flower off for easier access. Many types of insects have creative ways to rob nectar or find short cuts.

Bottle Gentian habitat includes low-lying moist areas in prairies, woodland edges or riparian edges in well drained soils and full sun.

We planted some tiny seedlings two years ago in our landscape where the soil stays fairly moist from downspout runoff. They are flowering for the first time this summer.

"Bottle Gentian plants tend to lean over as if under too much weight from the flower cluster, though the cluster tends to stay erect." (Minnesota Wildflowers)

In early June, the young leaves were covered with Four Lined Plant Bugs who were busy piercing holes into the leaves. It left leaves with many brown spots but as the plant continued to grow, the new leaves covered the short-lived damage.

The leaves are oppositely arranged and quite glossy.

Bottle Gentian typically begins flowering in mid September, continuing until mid October. Like many other natives this year, it started to flower earlier at the end of August.

Bottle Gentian is native to northeastern North America. See map for range.

Kartesz, J.T., The Biota of North America Program (BONAP).
North American Plant Atlas. Chapel Hill, N.C.