National Archives and Records Administration, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Bottle Gentian is, with its dark blue closed flower, among the finest perennials to grace the garden in late summer. Bottle gentian has bottle-like deep blue flowers that never actually open. The blooms are pollinated exclusively by bumblebees, which have the size and strength needed to pry open the flowers and gain entry. Bottle Gentians are slow-growing but long-lived and require little care once established. Gentiana andrewsii tolerates cold weather and even frost, blooming late into the fall.
Andrew’s bottle gentian, or scientifically Gentiana andrewsii, is a type of herbaceous flowering plant that falls under the Gentianaceae family. The plant was named after the famous English botanist and botanical artist Henry C. Andrews. Speaking about its availability, the bottle gentian is most commonly found in north-central and northeastern parts of North America. Likewise, it is seen in different parts of New England as well.
Also commonly called closed bottle gentian, it generally grows from 30 cm to 60 cm long with intense blue-colored flowers at its top. Similarly, a few clusters of flowers can be seen below the topmost set of flowers. This beautiful terrestrial plant grows well and flourishes in meadows and fields.
The plant is a perennial herb that blooms in late summer, starting in August and lasting until October. Its flowers, for most of the time, look like flower buds. However, they look like buds about to open when in full bloom.
Bottle Gentian Appearance
Thinly stemmed, generally upright, and sometimes slightly inclined, the bottle gentian do not have branches or no prominent branch even if they happened to have any. The large leaves are usually located below the flowers, and they are wide at the bottom and moderately pointed at the tip.
Its leaves are arranged in such a way there are two of them together per node along the stem and are oppositely arranged. Talking about its types, they are simple and are not subdivided into leaflets. In addition, the leaf edge is smooth and has no teeth or lobes, so the leaf blade is entire.
As already stated above, the stem is unbranched and smooth, mostly appearing green or occasionally dark red. However, multiple stems emerge from the roots.
Flowers and Seeds
The dark blue colored wildflower is usually 2 to 4 cm long, with unopened tips, and is radially symmetrical. They are composed of five tube-shaped corollas, forming petals all fused together by a connecting fringe. The calyx is shorter than the corolla and has ovate lobes.
Likewise, five stamens are rising from the ovary’s base with greenish-white filaments and yellow anthers. Upon fertilization, the ovary enlarges and becomes elliptical or ovate as the stamens get dry.
Although they are mostly blue-colored, the flowers can also appear purple or white upon blooming. Their color changes as the plants mature and get exposed to the sun and ultimately shade into a bronze color.
When fertilized, flowers produce seed capsules that produce many brown-colored seeds. They are very light, and as a result, it is easy for wind distribution. They require light for germination, so they need to be sown on the surface for proper growth.
Habitats for Bootle Gentian
Andrew’s bottle gentian requires moist or wet soil with the proper amount of water supply, so they generally occur in wetlands and meadows. In rare cases, the plant has been found growing on non-wetlands like sandy areas near Great Lakes.
Used in meadows, pollinator gardens and borders
However, there must be enough sunlight before the germination of seeds, and the soil must be rich in humus and somewhat acidic. Once it germinates, it can grow into a well-developed plant, but the stem may be inclined.
The plant is included in the threatened species list in states such as Maryland, Vermont, and New York.
The bottle gentian can easily grow from its seeds. Generally, the months of October and November are suitable for seed collection. After that, the seeds must be sown in lands with suitable environmental conditions, but they must not be covered.
After their exposure to sufficient sunlight and subsequent stratification, the plant eventually starts sprouting.
Besides, they can also be cultivated by the root division method. You must plant the divided root crowns approximately a foot apart; under favorable conditions, a new plant grows from rhizomes. However, they need protection from herbivores.
The North-American wildflower is largely beneficial for different organisms. Herbivores mainly eat them, so they are a good source of food for prairie animals. Similarly, the flowers are attractive due to which varieties of insects tend to visit the plant.
The closed nature of its flowers makes it difficult for insect species to feed on nectar and pollen, but some insects, such as digger bees, eastern carpenter bees, and bumblebees, are strong enough to make their way into them.
The eastern carpenter bees are famous for stealing their nectar without pollinating the plant.
As for humans, the plant does not have many significant uses. However, colorful flowers can be used as decorative ornaments during special occasions and festivals.