Gentianella quinquefolia (Stiff Gentian)
|Also known as:||Ague-weed|
|Life cycle:||annual, short-lived perennial|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; wet; meadows, swamps, fens, shores, ditches, roadsides|
|Bloom season:||August - October|
|Plant height:||9 to 30 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: none MW: FAC NCNE: FAC|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Clusters of 1 to 7 stalked flowers form at the ends of branching stems and arising from upper leaf axils. Flowers are light blue to violet or sometimes yellowish, ½ to nearly 1 inch long, tubular with 5 triangular lobes that fold in, closing the mouth of the tube, or stand erect when open. The calyx holding the flower is at least half the length of the flower tube, its narrow lobes up to 3/8 inch long.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are ½ to 2 inches long, about half as wide as long, lance-like or somewhat heart-shaped with a sharply pointed tip, stalkless or slightly clasping the stem. Edges and surfaces are smooth with 3 to 7 prominent parallel veins. Typically there is one strong central stem that branches freely from the upper leaf axils. Stems are smooth with four ridges, green to often deep red in color.
Stiff Gentian is another native species that demonstrates a wide range of habitat tolerance from the rich moist lowlands of a wet prairie to the high rocky ridge tops as seen at Whitewater State Park. Species such as this often perform well in the home garden and are well worth experimenting with. There are 2 varieties of Gentianella quinquefolia in North America, with var. occidentalis found in Minnesota; var. quinquefolia, a more eastern species, has a much smaller calyx.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Iron Horse Prairie SNA in Dodge County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken at Whitewater State Park in Winona County, and in Mower County.
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