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    The name, "gentian", is derived from "Gentius", a King of Illyria who is reputed to have found the local form of this plant beneficial for curing malaria in his troops.

     Linnaeus named the Gentian genus in 1753.

    See more blue Gentians and a white Gentian.

Gentiana affinis
Gentiana affinis. Synonym: Pneumonanthe affinis. (Bottle Gentian)
Gentianaceae (Gentian Family)

Montane, subalpine, alpine.  Wet meadows.  Summer.
Haviland Lake Trail, July 23, 2005.

Gentiana affinis is often found in dense clusters of a dozen or more plants and these clusters are scattered widely in wet meadows.  The plant has strong maroon stems that attract attention even before the multitude of flowers open on the upper third of the plant.  Lower flowers have pedicels; upper flowers are tightly clustered and without pedicels (in a manner similar to Gentiana parryi).  

Thomas Drummond collected this plant in the early 1830s and it was named and described by August Grisebach in William Jackson Hooker's Flora Boreali-Americana in 1837. (Click the title to read.)

Gentiana affinis
Gentiana affinis. Synonym: Pneumonanthe affinis. (Bottle Gentian)
Gentianaceae (Gentian Family)

Montane, subalpine, alpine.  Wet meadows.  Summer.
Haviland Lake Trail, July 23, 2005.

Swertia perennis
Swertia perennis
Swertia perennis
Swertia perennis (Star Gentian)
Gentianaceae (Gentian Family)

Montane, subalpine.  Wetlands.  Summer, fall.
Above: Placer Gulch, July 22, 2010 and
Lake Hope Trail, August 11, 2014.
Left: Groundhog Meadow Trail, July 31, 2004.

Swertia perennis is not commonly noticed because it frequently grows among grasses and other tall plants in wetlands, and because its flowers are not vibrant.  But Swertia perennis is well worth looking for.  Its few, star-shaped flowers are a very unusual and lovely dusky purple with darker purple streaks and tinges of yellow.  The plant grows straight on single sturdy stems and when you find one plant, you will almost always find several immediately near, for new plants most often sprout from roots of older plants.  The plant is often found in the company of Elephant HeadsKing's Crown and Rose Crown, and other plants that like wet roots.

Emanuel Sweert was a 16th century Dutch botanist and "perennis" is Latin for "through the year, perennial".  (More biographical information.Swertia perennis is circumboreal and was first collected in Bavaria in the mid-1700s and was named by Linnaeus in 1753.  In the northern hemisphere, Swertia perennis  is found from Alaska southward in the mountains through Canada to California and New Mexico.

Click for more Swertia perennis photograhs

Swertia perennis
Swertia perennis (Star Gentian)
Gentianaceae (Gentian Family)

Montane, subalpine.  Wetlands.  Summer, fall.
Groundhog Meadow Trail, July 31, 2004.

Swertia perennis
Swertia perennis (Star Gentian)
Gentianaceae (Gentian Family)

Montane, subalpine.  Wetlands.  Summer, fall.
Grindstone Lake, August 25, 2007.

At the base of each petal are small nectary glands which appear as depressions with scales and hairs growing around and above them.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Gentiana affinis

Range map for Swertia perennis