Explorer’s gentian

The gentian family (Gentianaceae) is a lovely family that includes many species found all over the US. However, the plants live in bogs or near mountain streams, so finding them is difficult. I had to travel all the way to Idaho to find my first flowering gentian! (I have seen leaves and fruits of another gentian, the American colombo or Frasera caroliniensis, but that is a post for another day.)

I was visiting a friend in central Idaho and we had not seen many amazing plants yet. We were walking by a stream and there was a big washout area that I could just feel was a good place for plants. We walked around a bit in the washout and were going to head back up to the trail when I saw them.

Wow a gentian! But what type?!

So I knew it was a gentian, due to the wet habitat, blue flowers and pleats in the petals. I had to wait until I could check my book, Idaho Mountain Wildflowers: A Photographic Compendium (Earle and Lundin, 2012) (a wonderful book that is also online). I had found a colony of explorer’s gentians (Gentiana calycosa)!

Explorer’s gentian (Gentiana calycosa, Gentianaceae)

Explorer’s gentians can be identified by the pale spots on the petals and the rounded leaves. They flower later than other species (August to September) and live higher up in the mountains. I was so excited to find these beauties!

Explorer’s gentian (Gentiana calycosa, Gentianaceae)

One thought on “Explorer’s gentian

  1. Hi! I found clumps of these on a hike near serene lakes California enroute down to the north fork of the American river and also at the summit of the Mt Judah loop near sugarbowl on an east facing slope!

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