Slender gentian

The second gentian from my Switzerland trip I’d like to highlight is the slender gentian or Gentianella tenella (Gentianaceae). I found this dainty gentian on an mountain by St. Moritz, Switzerland. It was growing along the edge of cow pastures. My siblings were petting the cows as I slowly took photos of plants, including the most delicate gentian of my trip, the slender gentian.

Notice the beard in the center of the flowers and the upturned petal tips (Gentianella tenella, Gentianaceae)

The identifying characteristics of slender gentians are small flowers (one cm tall) on long stems (five cm tall), blue bearded flowers and petals that point up at the tips (Hoppe, 2012, A Field Guide to the Flowers of the Alps).

Tiny flowers on long stems (Gentianella tenella, Gentianaceae)

The slender gentian is actually found in the United States! It grows in the western half of the country, from Alaska down to New Mexico and Arizona (USDA Plant Profile: Gentianella tenella). Many alpine plants are circumboreal, which means they live in the northern boreal regions across Asia, Europe and North America.

How do these little plants survive the harsh boreal temperatures? (Gentianella tenella, Gentianaceae)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *