Lesser fringed gentian

Gentianopsis virgata

Common Name: Lesser fringed gentian

  • Stems are anywhere from 8 to 24 inches tall and are much branched.
  • Flowers late in the season, from August to October.
  • The flowers have jagged edges, giving an almost torn appearance.
  • Distinguished from other, related plants because other gentians have closed flowers and are found in meadows, ditches, floodplains and forested swamps.

Native or Invasive: Native annual

Characteristics: The lesser fringed gentian has opposite, narrow leaves and four-lobed, funnel-shaped blue flowers with fringed edges. The flowers are often numerous on each plant and their color ranges from bright sky blue to deep violet-blue. They are common in both the upper and lower Great Lakes regions, but are missing throughout much of the mid-range of territory. They can also be found in Iowa, New York and the Gaspé Peninsula in Canada.

Habitat: Calcareous (high alkalinity) wet shores, fens and ditches.

Fun Fact: The gentian flowers late in the season and adds a beautiful blue to the mix of changing plants and trees. It often flowers with yellow goldenrod.

Ethnobotanical Uses: Once used to purify blood and maintain a healthy stomach.

Adapted from Guide to Great Lakes Coastal Plants, by Ellen Elliott Weatherbee, University of Michigan Press.