Bartonia virginica (Yellow Bartonia)

Plant Info
Also known as: Virginia Bartonia, Yellow Screw-stem
Family:Gentianaceae (Gentian)
Life cycle:annual
  • State Endangered
Habitat:part shade, shade, sun; moist; mossy conifer swamps and bogs, sandy or peaty ditches and swales, wet meadows
Bloom season:August - September
Plant height:
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: none MW: FACW 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 Cluster type: panicle Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] Flowers may be single but are more typically clustered in raceme-like panicles in the upper plant, the branches and flower stalks mostly erect. Flowers are about 1/8 inch long, erect, short to long stalked, greenish white to pale yellow, egg to bell shaped, with 4 short lance-shaped sepals at the base and 4 oblong petals that are typically pressed close against the central ovary, sometimes flaring a bit at the tip. A stout green stigma protrudes in the center.

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

Leaves are opposite and scale like, widely spaced on the upper stem and more closely spaced near the base. Stems are smooth, stiff and wiry, unbranched except in the flower cluster, and often twisted (hence one of its common names).


Bartonia virginica is an eastern species with Minnesota at the extreme western edge of its range and is subsequently very rare here. According to the DNR, while 90% of its preferred habitat has been altered beyond use by agriculture, its diminutive size makes survey for populations in remaining habitat very difficult. Presently the only known populations are at Cedar Creek Natural History Center in NE Anoka county, one in a bog and another in a swale in oak savanna. An historical record exists in Goodhue County, but that population gave way to agriculture long ago and it is unlikely to still exist there. It was listed as endangered in 1996.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken at Cedar Creek Natural History Center.


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