Gentianopsis crinita (Greater Fringed Gentian)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Gentianaceae (Gentian)
Life cycle:annual, biennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist soil; wet meadows, thickets, stream banks, low woods
Bloom season:August - September
Plant height:12 to 30 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: OBL MW: OBL NCNE: FACW
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 4-petals Flower shape: tubular

[photo of flowers] Blooms are singular on slender, 2 to 7 inch stalks at the end of the main stem and arising from side branches. The trumpet shaped, royal blue to blue-violet flowers are 1½ to 2 inches long. with 4 rounded petal lobes that have long, delicate fringes around the edges. The broad white and blue striped throat is enclosed by 4 green or red-tinged sepals, broad at the base tapering to slender tips that reach the base of the spreading lobes. The mid-rib of the sepals is strongly ridged, making the closed buds appear square with a sharp point at the top. Inside the tube are 4 yellow to orangish stamens and a creamy white style. Flowers open on sunny days.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are 1 to 2½ inches long, ¼ to ¾ inch wide, toothless, hairless with a glossy surface, opposite, stalkless or clasping the stem, the lower leaves broadly egg-lance shaped, rounded at the base, becoming narrower higher on the stem. The erect stems are hairless, slightly 4-angled and leafy, the few to numerous side branches narrowly angled to the main stem.


For centuries, poets and artists have considered the Fringed Gentian's rich beauty which has inspired such writers as William Cullen Bryant, Emily Dickinson, and Henry David Thoreau. Infrequent throughout much of its native range, its populations are generally in small and scattered groups that depend on adequate seed production to persist from year to year. The confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers produced many herbarium specimens before the developing metropolitan area and introductions of non-native species extirpated them. I have heard accounts of dense populations that have taken to colonizing tailings basins on the Iron Range. Very similar species is Lesser Fringed Gentian (Gentianopsis procera), which is a smaller plant overall with shorter fringes on the flowers, less spreading petal lobes, and smaller, more linear leaves.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka County. Photos courtesy Rick Stich taken in Cass County.


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

Posted by: Sandra, along County Road 5, one mile north of Steamboat Lak
on: 2012-08-29 09:06:56

It was a joy to see two small patches of this most beautiful and uncommon wildflower blooming along the roadside near our home. (Thank you for receiving my comments and allowing me to share the pleasure with you!)

Posted by: Don - Edina, MN
on: 2013-09-25 11:17:38

Where can I find Gentians (Gentianopsis crinita or Gentian puberulenta) in the Twin Cities, Metro area

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2013-09-26 19:26:56

Don, you don't say what your purpose is--I hope it's not to take them from the wild for yourself! In any case, I only know of one location in Anoka county on private property where G. crinita might be found, though it hasn't been there the last 2 years. All of our own G. puberulenta images were taken in greater MN, not near the metro. If your purpose is to purchase plants, check out the advertisers under "where to buy native seeds and plants", which is on almost every page of the Minnesota Wildflowers web site.

Posted by: Jana - Lake of the Woods county
on: 2014-09-04 18:13:06

I found some of these little beauties on the high side of a low (wet) ditch. The ditch is mowed once a year in early August so the flower plants in the mowed section are only 6-7 inches tall but 12 -16 inches where not mowed. The blooms are are the same size and equally beautiful whether mowed or not. I've also spotted the Showy Lady Slipper in the same dith. It's a good ditch.

Posted by: Cynthia Elias - Afton State Park, Washington County
on: 2018-09-17 19:50:02

I saw these blooming in the prairie interpretive loop at Afton State Park on Sunday, 9th September. Photos are available for verification if desired.

Posted by: Kelly Blackledge - Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, Rochert, MN
on: 2019-09-04 12:12:26

A few plants blooming on the refuge. Observed 9/4/2019

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