Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Showy Gentian - Gentiana decora   Pollard
Members of Gentianaceae:
Members of Gentiana with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Gentianales » Family Gentianaceae
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AuthorPollard
DistributionThroughout the Mountains, and extending into the western Piedmont foothills.

This is a Southern Appalachian endemic, ranging from WV south to northwestern SC and northern GA.
AbundanceFrequent to common in the Mountains, and quite widespread; the most numerous montane Gentiana species in the state, by far. Rare into the western Piedmont.
HabitatThis species has a broad range of forested habitats. It occurs mostly in full shade of mesic to rich montane forests, without regard to soil pH. It may grow along wooded streams, but it also grows onto mesic slopes, though not normally in overly dry woods.
PhenologyBlooms from September to October, and fruits soon after flowering.
IdentificationThis is a/the standard montane gentian, growing to about 1.5 feet tall, with an erect stem and numerous opposite, mostly lanceolate leaves. The inflorescence is the standard collection of erect blue (or blue-white) flowers at the top of the stem. This species differs from nearly all others except G. austromontana by its quite hairy stems, as well as its hairy calyx lobes. In this species, the very slender calyx lobes separate it from the others, which have more typical and wider lobes. The tips of the corollas tend to be slightly opened, and not tightly closed as in G. clausa and the others. Also, these flowers are not normally as rich violet-blue or deep blue as others, and may be so heavily striped with blue and white as to appear a mix of these colors instead of mostly blue. You need to be warned that you may often see the species before it is completely in bloom, and thus the flowers might still be closed at the tip -- another reason for checking stem and calyx characters. This the "default" bottle gentian in the mountains, found at a wide variety of elevations and moisture regimes, though mostly inside forests or near edges.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Appalachian Gentian (the common name used for G. austromontana)
State RankS4? [S4]
Global RankG4?
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