The third gentian I’d like to highlight is the Schleicher’s gentian or Gentiana schleicheri (Gentianaceae). I found this bright gentian on Rothorn Peak by Zermatt, Switzerland. The peak is 10,200 feet (3,100 meters) high, but we were able to take cable cars up to the top . While other tourists were looking up at the Matterhorn, my mom and I were looking down at the alpine plants. My mom actually found the best patches of gentians on the backside of a little hill. Against the gray rocks, the flowers looked like sky pieces that got dislodged and fell to earth.
So many beautiful blue patches of flowers! (Gentiana schleicheri, Gentianaceae)
The identification of this gentian was difficult as there are at least five bright blue gentians with short stems in Switzerland. After searching though the book A Field Guide to the Flowers of the Alps (Hoppe, 2012) and using online databases (Swiss Web Flora, Info Flora Switzerland and The Alpine Flora of Zermatt), I finally identified the plants as Schleicher’s gentians.
The fold between the petals is a common characteristic of gentians (Gentiana schleicheri, Gentianaceae)
These short blue gentians are identified by their leaves. Schleicher’s gentians have rosettes of stiff, pointed leaves that have papillary (bumpy) edges. The leaves also curl up at the ends toward the flower. The flowers are on very short stems and have narrow flaps on the calyx (green sepals at the base of the flower) (Info Flora Switzerland).
Notice the pointed, bumpy leaves and the small flaps on the edge of the calyces (Gentiana schleicheri, Gentianaceae)
Schleicher’s gentians are only found in the southeast corner of Switzerland. They are considered to be rare by the Swiss Web Flora database and to be of medium concern by the Info Flora Switzerland database. This is most likely related to the scarcity of their habitat, bare rocky mountaintops.
I think this plant was my favorite wildflower of the whole trip. They are just so vibrant and beautiful! (Gentiana schleicheri, Gentianaceae)
My watercolor card for my mom of the Matterhorn with some Gentiana schleicheri (Gentianaceae)