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Gentianopsis detonsa

Gentianopsis detonsa

Within the Gentianaceae, taxa within the genus Gentianopsis are collectively known as the fringed gentians. Depending on the classification scheme used, there are somewhere between 16 and 25 species of Gentianopsis, broadly distributed in north temperate regions. Gentianopsis detonsa is known commonly as the windmill fringed gentian (a phenomenon better seen here: fringed gentian at Yellowstone National Park).

This little annual or biennial, growing from 5cm to 60cm (to 2ft.) high, is recognized by J.M. Gillett as being a subspecies of Gentianopsis detonsa, i.e., Gentiana detonsa (Rottb.) Ma subsp. yukonensis (J.M. Gillett) J.M. Gillett (as noted in William J. Cody's encyclopedia Flora of the Yukon Territory. If one accepts this subspecies as being valid (and few other references do), then this is a taxon that is "endemic to the valley of the Yukon River and its tributaries in central Alaska and southwestern Yukon Territory", where it grows in "forest meadows and subalpine heathland". It's also noted that it grows in disturbed situations. Accordingly, this particular plant was photographed along the highway northwest of Haines Junction, in a small roadside meadow ringed by trees that had (at some point in the past) been disturbed by bush roads.

On the other hand, if one doesn't recognize this as a subspecies only found in Yukon and Alaska, then it is folded into a species with a much wider distribution: at the least, much of northern North America--and sometimes more, including south through the Rockies into Utah, New Mexico and Nevada. In addition to North America, the species is also found in Iceland, Norway and Russia.

I am partial to fringed gentians as they are one of the first plants I could recognize that weren't "always there" (and by that I mean they weren't a tree or shrub). It was a special trip to go with my mother once every year or two (sometimes we missed them) to see the small patch of fringed gentians that grew in the ditch a few kilometres from my home.

5 Comments

oh, yes! the ephemeral world - appreciated by many who believe in forest imps as well (i do believe in imps, i do believe in imps!) VERY blue.....

what greater delight is there than to behold
the earth apparelled with plants as with a robe
of embroidered works --john gerard 1633 the herbal

i enjoy your childhood memories thank you daniel


Just gorgeous - Thank you

Daniel, do you know what time of year this photo was taken? I get up to Haines Junction occasionally, and it would be wonderful to see a fringed gentian.

PNS, yes, of course. July 16.

From the time stamps on my photographs, this was taken about 2/3 of the way from Beaver Creek to Haines Junction, so about an hour to the northwest of HJ.

Perhaps here? (note the old roads off the side of the highway). I'm 95% certain this was taken northwest of where one can first see Kluane Lake from the highway (if traveling from Beaver Creek).

Still, it could be a bit further northwest yet.

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