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Stemless Gentian Gentiana acaulis

Other Common Name(s):

Description

Gentiana acaulis, Gentian, is an alpine perennial native to central and southern Europe and can be found in Alpine grasslands, rocky meadows, and subalpine forests at altitudes from 2,500 feet to 9,700 feet. They have been located in the mountain ranges of the Alps, Pyrenees, and Carpathians. It is usually found in acid soils, though sometimes also found on chalky limestone or sandstone. Gentian have showy, dark blue flowers that bloom late spring to early summer. Gentian has been known to be shy to flower. The flowers are stemless and appear to sit on top of a carpet of leaves. This evergreen ground cover measures about 4 inches tall and 8 inches wide.

While easily grown in moist, gritty-gravelly, well-drained soils, Gentian prefer cool summer temperatures and do not perform well in USDA Hardiness Zones greater than 7. It is difficult to grow in areas with hot summers and in such a region they appreciate some protection from the strongest sunlight. The plant likes full sun but benefits from afternoon shade to prevent leaf bleaching. They are propagated by root ball division and seeds. The seeds are best sown in the fall while they are fresh. In mid summer, rosettes of the leaves can be removed and potted.

The genus, Gentiana, was named for the King of Illyria, King Gentius. He reigned from 180-168 BC. Illyria is now known as the western Balkans. He reportedly studied the use of yellow gentian or bitter wort to make tonics. The species name, acaulis, means stemless. Gentian is primarily an ornamental plant with winter interest. Gardeners might enjoy this alpine native in a patio container, ground cover, rock garden, or cottage garden. The challenge will be to find a place that this plant might be happy and that is similar to its native habitat.

Diseases, Pests, and Other Plant Problems:

The plant can not tolerate hot or humid conditions. It does not have any serious issues with pests or diseases.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#showy flowers#perennial#container plant#herbaceous perennial#groundcover#cool weather plant#ornamental
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#showy flowers#perennial#container plant#herbaceous perennial#groundcover#cool weather plant#ornamental
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Gentiana
    Species:
    acaulis
    Family:
    Gentianaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Gentian has been used to treat wounds, sore throats, arthritic inflammation, and jaundice.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Leaf Cutting
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central and Southern Europe (Spain to Ukraine)
    Distribution:
    Great Britain, United States Pacific Northwest, Canada British Columbia
    Wildlife Value:
    Bees are reportedly attracted to the flower for nectar and pollination.
    Edibility:
    Gentian root has a long history of use as a herbal bitter in the treatment of digestive disorders and is an ingredient of many proprietary medicines. It contains some of the most bitter compounds known and is used as a scientific basis for measuring bitterness.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 3 in. - 0 ft. 6 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 4 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3b, 3a, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Description:
    Pods form after the flower fades. They should be allowed to dry on the plant. Once dried, the pods can be opened to collect the seeds. Seeds are best sown in the fall when fresh.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Blue
    Green
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Solitary
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Trumpet
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Stemless, 2 1/2 inch flowers sitting on leafy ground cover. Trumpet shaped and upward facing. It blooms singularly and has a deep blue color. It measures about 2.8 inches long and has 5 pointed petals. Each petal is about 0.4 inches long, and they are separated by small folds. The petal tube interior has green spots. Blooms from late spring to early summer.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Smooth
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Rosulate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The evergreen leaves measure up to 1 inch long and grow in rosettes that, once established, form a dense carpet-like appearance, 4 inches by eight inches.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Plant is stemless.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Patio
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rock Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Pollinators
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Rabbits