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FutureStarrClosed Bottle Gentianor
Closed bottle gentian, Gentiana andrewsii, or bottle gentian, is found throughout the northeastern half of the United States and grows in moist, rich soils either in full or partial sun. It can most likely be found in flood plain forests, thickets, fens, or other swampy areas near water. Gentiana andrewsii is a true gentian belonging to Gentianaceae. Gentiana was named after Gentius, the King of Illyria (was a region in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula) who found that the roots of yellow gentian (Gentiana lutea) had a healing effect on his malaria-stricken troops around 500 B.C. There are roughly 400 different species in the Gentian family. Bottle gentian is one of the most common perennial gentians and the easiest to grow in moist wildflower gardens.
Bottle gentian is a beautiful, showy wildflower that blooms August through October with 1.5-inch violet, sometimes white, closed terminal cluster flowers. Smaller flowers can be present in the axils of the upper tier of leaves. Only strong bees can force the corolla open in order to get at the nectar and deposit pollen. The plant itself is an erect, 1-3 foot tall forb with a non-branching stem. The leaves are mostly stalkless, lance-shaped with parallel venation, and devoid of hairs. As the leaves move up the stem, they go from being opposite leaves to more of a whorled pattern.Roots and leaves of the bottle gentian are bitter tasting to mammals and other herbivores, so they usually are not utilized as a food source. White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are one of the few animals that may chomp off the tender tops of the plants before they have a chance to flower. In response to herbivory, the plant may produce side branches with flowers on them. The seeds are too small to be used by birds as a food source.
This is one of our most common perennial gentians and the easiest to grow in a moist wildflower garden. Other bottle gentians include a very similar species, Blind Gentian (G. clausa), in which the bands are not longer than the petals. Narrow-leaved Gentian (G. linearis), which occurs chiefly in the north and in the mountains as far south as West Virginia, has very narrow leaves and open flowers. The flowers of Soapwort Gentian (G. saponaria) are light blue and slightly open at the tip; this midwestern species has soapy juice. Stiff Gentian (Gentianella quinquefolia), an annual, has light blue or lilac, open flowers with bristle-pointed, fringeless lobes and a 4-sided stem; it occurs from southwestern Maine south to Florida and from southern Ontario to Missouri, Louisiana, and southern Tennessee.Bottle Gentian are slow-growing but long-lived and require little care once established. Bumblebees are the main pollinators because they are the only insects strong enough to pry open the closed flowers (see photo). Cream Gentian is the first Gentian to bloom in late summer. Bottle Gentian and others (see our website) may wait until September or October to lend late-season color to mostly sunny sites in medium-wet to medium-dry soils. It is a great companion with other late bloomers such as: New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae), Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana), and Prairie Blazing Star (Liatris pycnostachya). Other common names include Closed Bottle Gentian, and Andrew's Gentian. (Source: www.prairiemoon.com)