downy gentian

(Gentiana puberulenta)

Conservation Status
downy gentian
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N4? - Apparently Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed


Downy gentian is a 8 to 20 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises on 1 to 5 stems from a long, stout taproot

The stems erect or slightly reclining, slightly reddish, and rarely branched. They are densely covered with minute hairs, often in lines on the stem angles.

The leaves are opposite, lance-shaped to linear lance-shaped, firm, ½ to 3 long, and to ¾ wide. They are widest below the middle. They have 1 main vein and 2 smaller lateral veins. The upper surface is green, shiny and hairless. The lower surface is paler green and hairless except for a line of hairs along the base of the midvein. The margins are untoothed and rolled under. The margins are rough to the touch only near the base of the blade with short, rounded, nipple-like bumps or minute, stiff hairs, but they do not have a fringe of minute hairs along the entire margin.

The inflorescence is a cluster of 1 to 10 flowers at the top of the stem and sometimes individual flowers rising on short stalks from the upper leaf axils. There is a pair of large, leaf-like bracts below the terminal inflorescence.

The flowers are 13 16 to 2 long and about 1 wide when fully open.

There are 5 green sepals (calyx) fused at the base into a ¼ to 11 16 long tube, then separated into 5 linear, often leaf-like, to ¾ long, 1 32 to wide lobes. The calyx tube is hairless and the calyx lobes are minutely hairy along the midribs.

There are 5 blue petals alternating with 5 obviously shorter plaits, all fused at the base and for most of their length into a bell shaped, 1 to 23 16 long corolla tube, then separated into 5 lobes. The lobes are egg-shaped, to long, spreading, sometimes bent backwards, shallowly toothed, and abruptly pointed at the tip. The plaits may toothed, fringed, or shallowly split. The base of the corolla tube is whitish with green veins. The remainder of the corolla tube and the corolla lobes are usually bright blue or sometimes pale blue. The outside of the tube is tinged with green and purple. The inside is white with blue stripes. The lobes are solid blue.

In the center of the corolla tube is a pistil with a white, 2-lobed stigma, surrounded by 5 stamens with white filaments and white anthers. The anthers are separate, not fused together.

The fruit is an elliptical, one-chambered capsule with numerous seeds.




8 to 20


Flower Color


Blue or white with blue markings


Similar Species


Pleated gentian (Gentiana affinis) flower is smaller and the lobes of the flower are often unequal in size, sometimes virtually suppressed. The corolla tube is often cleft once or twice, especially when a lobe is suppressed. The corolla lobes have numerous, conspicuous, pale or white spots.


Dry. Prairies, upland woods. Limy, sandy soil.




August to October


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



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









  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 (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Asteranae  


Gentianales (gentians, dogbanes, madders, and allies)  


Gentianaceae (gentian)  
  Tribe Gentianeae (gentian)  
  Subtribe Gentianinae (gentian)  


Gentiana (gentians)  
  Section Pneumonanthe  

Subordinate Taxa






Gentiana puberula


Common Names


downy gentian

prairie gentian










Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk, flower cluster, or inflorescence.



The group of outer floral leaves (sepals) below the petals, occasionally forming a tube.



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



Long, straight, and narrow, with more or less parallel sides, like a blade of grass.



A fold or pleat.



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

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    downy gentian   downy gentian  


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  Gentiana puberulenta PRAIRIE GENTIAN
Frank Mayfield
  Gentiana puberulenta PRAIRIE GENTIAN  
  Gentiana puberulenta
Joshua Mayer
  Gentiana puberulenta  

Downy Gentian




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