American spurred gentian

(Halenia deflexa ssp. deflexa)

Conservation Status
American spurred gentian
 
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

N5? - Secure

SNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

American spurred gentian is listed as endangered in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New York.

     
           
Wetland Indicator Status
     
  Great Plains

FAC - Facultative

     
  Midwest

FAC - Facultative

     
  Northcentral & Northeast

FAC - Facultative

     
           
 
Description
 
 

American spurred gentian is an erect, annual forb that rises on a rosette of basal leaves and a single flowering stem. It can be 8 to 36 tall but us usually no more than 16 in height.

The stems is erect, hairless, and has four rounded angles. It is usually unbranched but sometimes has a few branches above the middle.

Basal leaves are spatula-shaped or inversely lance-shaped, 2 to 4 long, and narrowed to a short stalk.

Stem leaves are opposite, lance-shaped to egg-shaped, unlobed, ¾ to 2 long, to 1 wide, and stalkless. The upper and lower surfaces are hairless. There are 3 to 5 parallel veins. The margins are untoothed.

The inflorescence is a loose, branched, cyme-like cluster of 2 to 9 flowers, usually 5 or more, at the end of the stem and also rising from upper leaf axils. Each flower is at the end of a stem that is up to 1½ long.

The flowers are to ½ long. There are 4 sepals, 4 petals, 4 stamens, and 1 style. The sepals are green and 3 16 long. They are united at the base into a very short tube then separated into 4 narrowly lance-shaped lobes. The petals are green to yellowish, often tinged with purple. They are united at the base into a short corolla tube then separated into 4 lance-shaped lobes. Each lobe has a tubular, downward-pointing, about 3 16 long spur at the base. The style has a 2-lobed stigma.

The fruit is a cone-shaped, curved, seed capsule that protrudes horn-like beyond the persistent corolla at maturity.

 
     
 

Height

 
 

8 to 36, usually 16 or less

 
     
 

Flower Color

 
 

Green to yellowish, often tinged with purple

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
  The four-spurred corolla is distinctive. There are no similar species.  
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Moist to wet. Coniferous forests, especially at the edges; cedar swamps; bogs; river banks; road clearings; and trails. Partial shade.

 
     
 
Ecology
 
 

Flowering

 
 

July to August

 
     
 
Use
 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28, 29, 30.

 
  3/23/2021      
         
 

Nativity

 
 

Native

 
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Locally common

American spurred gentian is often encountered in moist woods on trails that are wide enough to allow some sunlight to filter through.

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (dicots)  
  Superorder Asteranae  
 

Order

Gentianales (gentians, dogbanes, madders, and allies)  
 

Family

Gentianaceae (gentian)  
  Tribe Gentianeae  
  Subtribe Swertiinae  
 

Genus

Halenia (spurred gentian)  
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

Two subspecies of American spurred gentian have been recognized; ssp. brentoniana, and the nominate subspecies, ssp. deflexa. Curiously, ITIS and USDA PLANTS both recognize ssp. deflexa but not ssp. brentoniana. Plants of the World Online (POWO) considers ssp. brentoniana a synonym, and doesn’t recognize any subspecies. iNaturalist has 374 observations of Halenia deflexa, 3 observations of ssp. brentoniana, and no observations of ssp. deflexa.

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Halenia brentoniana

Halenia deflexa ssp. brentoniana

Halenia deflexa var. brentoniana

Swertia deflexa

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

American spurred gentian

American spurred-gentian

spurred-gentian

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Corolla

A collective name for all of the petals of a flower.

 

Cyme

A branched, flat-topped or convex flower cluster in which the terminal flower opens first and the outermost flowers open last.

 

Sepal

An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

       
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Plant

  American spurred gentian    
       

Inflorescence

  American spurred gentian    
       

Leaves

  American spurred gentian    
       

Infructescence

  American spurred gentian    
       
       
     
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