Halenia deflexa (American Spurred Gentian)

Plant Info
Also known as: Green Gentian
Family:Gentianaceae (Gentian)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; moist woods, mossy conifer forests, bogs
Bloom season:July - August
Plant height:6 to 30 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FAC NCNE: FAC
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 4-petals Cluster type: whorled

[photo of flowers] Clusters of 2 to 9 flowers on square stalks at the top of the plant, whorled around upper leaf axils, and at the end of few branching stems arising from upper leaf axils. Flowers are 1/3 to ½ inch long with 4 petals, each have a tubular spur up to 1/5 inch long, extending back past the sepals, becoming broadly oval above the spur and narrowing to a pointed tip. Blooms are observed mostly closed like a short cone, opening only slightly with petals tips curled out. Color is mostly light green or purplish, especially into the spur. The sepals are green, elliptic, adjoined between the spurs, about half the length of the petals above the spur.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are ¾ to 1½ inches long, ¼ to ½ inch wide, toothless, hairless, and glossy. Basal leaves are oval to spatula shaped, narrowing to a short stalk; stem leaves are broadly rounded at the base, tapering to a sharp point, strongly 3 or 5 veined, mostly stalkless, and widely spaced on the stem. Stems are hairless, square and unbranched or few branched.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a conical capsule that protrudes from the opening of the flower like a rhinoceros horn.


The flowers on the Spurred Gentian, like many of the gentians, never fully open. Between the subdued flower color and  green of the foliage it is a species easy to pass by in the lush undergrowth of damp woods and bogs. If you manage to notice one, suddenly you see the many around you.

Please visit our sponsors

  • Minnesota Native Plant Society

Where to buy native seed and plants ↓

Map of native plant purveyors in the upper midwest

  • Minnesota Native Landscapes - Your Ecological Problem Solvers
  • Natural Shore Technologies - Using science to improve land and water
  • Itasca Ladyslipper Farm - Native orchids, container grown
  • Prairie Restorations - Bringing people together with the land
  • Landscape Alternatives - Distinctive Native Plants since 1986!

More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Beltrami and Hubbard counties. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Cass, Hubbard and Lake counties.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Karine - Chisholm, MN
on: 2011-08-10 21:29:45

Saw this all over working on the Sturgeon River Trail in the Superior National Forest North of Chisholm.

Posted by: Deane - Itasca State Park
on: 2013-02-02 08:38:11

We found this along the Dr. Roberts trail, not knowing what it was. As you described, by the time we had figured it out, we realized it was all around us.

Posted by: Brandon - Embarrass, St. Louis County
on: 2016-06-29 14:07:55

I found it on the trail in a boggy area. I didn't know what it was, thought it may be related to the aquilegia but was delighted to find it a gentian.

Posted by: Gail - Voyageurs National Park
on: 2016-09-03 18:24:04

Found a patch of plants growing near the shore in mid-August, on an island in the park.

Posted by: Susan Premo - Mcdougal lake, lake county
on: 2021-07-04 20:47:29

Along the Stony river there is a small bridge , we went into the woods and I spotted this. Such a lovely little flower. I went through your site by bloom time, looking at each plant until I saw it. Whew! Didn't take quite as long as I feared!

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.


Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.