pleated gentian

(Gentiana affinis)

Conservation Status
pleated gentian
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked

S3 - Vulnerable


Special Concern

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland


FACU - Facultative upland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland


Pleated gentian is a 2 to 16 tall, erect or reclining, perennial forb that rises on 1 to several stems from a caudex

The stems are slightly reddish and may be erect or recline on the ground with only the tips ascending. They are unbranched below the inflorescence. They are densely covered with minute, fine hairs, often in lines as below the leaf margins.

The leaves are opposite, lance-shaped to egg-shaped, thick, to 1½ long, and to wide. They have 1 main vein and 2 smaller lateral veins. The upper surface is hairless. The lower surface is hairless except for hairs on the midvein. The margins are untoothed and have a fringe of minute hairs along the entire margin.

The inflorescence is a cluster of 1 to several flowers at the top of the stem and often individual flowers rising on short stalks from the upper leaf axils.

The flowers are ¾ to 1 long.

Each flower is subtended by 5 green sepals (calyx) fused at the base into a to 5 16 long tube, then separated into 5 linear lance-shaped lobes that are unequal in size and less than half to nearly as long as the tube. The calyx tube is minutely hairy along the margin.

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, ¾ to 1 long corolla tube, then separated into 5 lobes. The lobes are oblong egg-shaped, 1 16 to ¼ long, unequal in size, sometimes virtually suppressed, spreading, and pointed or rounded at the tip. The lobes have numerous, conspicuous, white or pale spots. The tube is often cleft once or twice, especially when a lobe is suppressed. The plaits are toothed at the tip.

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.




2 to 16


Flower Color




Similar Species


Downy gentian (Gentiana puberulenta) flower is larger. The corolla lobes do not have pale spots.


Moist. Saline wetlands in native prairie remnants.




August through September


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 28, 29, 30.








Rare in Minnesota

  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


Two varieties of pleated gentian have been described. Only the nominate variety, var. affinis, occurs in Minnesota. Most sources do not recognize any varieties.




Dasystephana affinis

Dasystephana interrupta

Gentiana affinis var.affinis

Gentiana affinis var. bigelovii

Gentiana affinis var. forwoodii

Gentiana affinis var. major

Gentiana affinis var. ovata

Gentiana affinis var. parvidentata

Gentiana bigelovii

Gentiana forwoodii

Gentiana interrupta

Gentiana oregana

Gentiana rusbyi

Pneumonanthe affinis


Common Names


northern gentian

pleated gentian

Rocky Mountain 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 short, thickened, woody, persistent enlargement of the stem, at or below ground level, used for water storage.



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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