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Gentiana calycosa

Gentiana calycosa

Continuing with the series on the gentian family, Gentiana calycosa is a true gentian, commonly known as mountain bog gentian, mountain gentian, explorer's gentian or Rainier pleated gentian. This photograph was taken in early August on the flanks of Mt. Adams, Washington, in the same area as these images of Gentiana calycosa.

The common name Rainier pleated gentian hints at a western North American distribution, and that is indeed the case, with a range from British Columbia to California and east to western Wyoming (as an aside, I know some of you get impatient with photographs from western North America, but it's what I have on hand--there'll be at least one photograph from elsewhere in the world later in the series). Other common names, as you might surmise, rightly suggest it is a species of subalpine and alpine environments along streams, wet meadows and bogs.

The epithet calycosa means "full calyx", and I'm afraid I don't know why that is noteworthy in comparison to other gentians.

Cultivation of Gentiana calycosa is possible, but according to the Encyclopedia of Northwest Native Plants for Gardens and Landscapes, it is "a perennial for the determined, patient gardener". This is due to its preference for moist, yet well-drained soils--in other words, trying to replicate a mountain environment with a cool stream or seep.


I love these delicate gentle flowers. Somewhere in my life I have seen them painted on tea cups and saucers, on English bone china. My aunts and mother used to exchange them for birthday and Christmas gifts.

To me, in my child's mind they reminded me of a delicate glass one would sip some super wonderful elixir, Dreaming... HAHAHAHAHA

They look like a cross between Blue-eyed Mary and Harvest Lilies, both which grow profusely here in the Spring. Lovely photo!

Daniel - like how you've circled around the family to start with non-Gentian-looking genera and come to this little blue beauty today just reeking of Gentian. for the record I love your western north americans as well as your more exotic offerings - never disappointed, thank you and my fellow subscribers for such a delightful site!

Looks like the little gentians we see up around Georgian Bay and the Bruce Peninsula - such little lovlies.

i do not mind your series of north west flowers
not in the least -they are new to me and my
local libarary does not have books so i am searching powells and in looking around the web
i found the canadian natural museum of history
a fine web sight with really nice black and white
drawings one can print out and even color

my aunts painted china and water colors and oils
every where is another part of the world
thank you daniel bon jour every one

disporum cantoniense night heron is interesting

I have admired these charming flowers in many locations in the Northwest. They grace the mountains of Yukon, are found on hikes in the Cathedral Lakes Park and Manning Park, they stand tall and are abundant at Gentian Lake on the North Shore mountains in close proximity to Vancouver and bloom reliably, year after year in my own Vancouver garden.
Many thanks for featuring them with your meticulous photo to bring out their charms.

I have no problem with photies of North Americans, or with the wonderful detail of the accompanying text. You have [I think] a good balance. I am grateful for the opportunity to see all your pretties!+

In Sweden we talk about "gentian blue" which is this clear penetrating blue. So lovely and if you look closely into the calyx you see the wonderful markings in green along the petals.
Keep up the good work!

Will you be showing what I was told was the "closed" gentian?

I have seen them in Stokes Forest in Sussex County, New Jersey. I do not have a photo to send.

Hello Mary,

I don't think I have a photo of that one in particular, but someone just emailed me to mention that they've added a "closed gentian" to the Flickr pool -- though it is not the one you'll be familiar with.

I show these photos to my class of 6th graders--they paid little attention at first, but now they ask me every day if there is a new one.

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