Arctic Gentian

17 Sep

Okay, so I didn’t see arctic gentian today.  I was at work.  But I thought about it, doesn’t that count?  I reminisced about how many wonderful species of gentian I have seen this year and lamented the lousy fact that this year’s flower sightings have not included those of the gorgeous arctic gentian, Gentiana (sometimes Getianodes) algida.  The photo below was taken on September 16 of last year, so the time is right, but current circumstances are not lining up for a high-elevation gentian search.  Perhaps this year was just too dry for a good showing, or perhaps I just haven’t looked in the right places!

This very small plant, also called whitish gentian (in yet another boring, unromantic USDA name), is easy to overlook, but the white flowers with purple streaks and dots should not be missed.  This is a late summer alpine plant, and as visible in the photo of snow in Rocky Mountain National Park on September 16, 2011, it thrives in harsh, alpine climates in the central Rockies.

Some refer to this species as the “boo-hoo flower”, becuase it is one of the last wildflowers of the summer to bloom (as in, boo-hoo, the summer is almost over).  Some websites note seeing it in July this year, where I have only ever found it at the end of August or beginning of September.  I guess the wacky weather made me miss my chance this year!


Posted by on September 17, 2012 in Nature


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2 responses to “Arctic Gentian

  1. John Behnke

    September 15, 2015 at 7:28 am

    I saw arctic gentians in Missouri Gulch last week, thanks to your blog I know what they are. I live in Michigan so the flowers I saw there are all new to me.

  2. Jane Hendrix

    December 23, 2015 at 9:08 am

    “Boo-hoo” flower! What an apt name for this lovely species! It grows in my area above timberline at around 11,800 feet. And, yes, it’s the last flower of our short and frantic wildflower season and, like you, we usually find it in late August. Unlike other Gentian species, Arctic Gentian has narrow, grass-like leaves that blend perfectly into the alpine tundra turf, making it inconspicuous until it opens its large, lovely blossoms. Great photos! You must love plants because you have captured their “personalities” in your pictures.


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