Hiker’s Gentian

Last week Leonard and I hiked to Paradise Meadow at Lassen Volcanic National Park. This late in the season I did not expect to encounter wildflowers to photograph. Instead I was expecting to enjoy a gorgeous fall day and learn a little more geology with Leonard. Much to my surprise I found two new wildflowers.

Hiker’s gentian (Gentianopsis simplex) is a native that grows in wet mountain meadows. It can be found in California, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Cal Flora, and other references, call hiker’s gentian an annual, the Jepson Herbaria website lists it as a perennial and a State of Montana wildflower website uses the term biennial. Take your pick!

The erect stem is unbranched and has opposite pairs of lance to oval-shaped leaves. The upper leaves are longer and narrower than those lower on the stem.

One solitary light to deep bluish flower sits atop each hiker’s gentian stem. The flower peduncle can be very long. The four petals are united into a trumpet-shaped corolla topped by four lobes. The lobes are nearly half the length of the corolla and fringed around the edges. The superior ovary has a bi-lobed stigma.

Hiker’s gentian fruits are two-chambered capsules containing ridged, pointed seeds.

Another common name, among others, for G simplex is oneflower fringed gentian. Gentiana simplex is a synonym for this member of the Gentian Family (Gentianaceae). The genus name means “having the form of or resembling a gentian”. The meaning of the species designation, derived from Latin, is “simple, undivided or unbranched”.



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