Greater fringed gentian is a native annual or biennial of moist meadows, low woods and damp shores, usually over calcareous sand and gravel.
It grows 30 to 90 cm tall, the shorter height more common, especially in the north.
Origin of the Name: Gentianopsis, for Gentian, a Roman king of Illyria who used gentians medicinally; -opsis, looking like, i.e. similar to the genus Gentiana; crinita, L., with a tuft of long soft hairs
Range: ME to PA, s. in the mts. to GA; w to IA, Man.
WI Range: Statewide
Common associates: Boneset, Ladies tresses, Gerardia, Switch grass
Wetland Indicator Status: FACW+
Coefficient of Conservatism: C = 10 (S&W), C = 8 (MI))
Like all the gentians the leaves are simple, opposite, toothless (entire) and without a stalk or petiole (sessile).
The stem leaves in the middle of the plant are about 1 cm broad, less than 4 times as long, rounded at the base, and pointed at the tip.
Deep violet-blue flowers (insert) are 3 to 5 cm long with four flaring
petals, joined at the base and fringed at the tips. They open in the day and close at night. Along with the other gentians they bloom through September and October.
Seeds are small, pale and
flat. Germination requires moist soil and freezing to break dormancy, so seeds are best sown in the fall. Continued self-seeding requires some disturbance to provide a moist, bare soil surface.
Greater fringed gentian is very similar to Lesser fringed gentian (G. procera), which is distinguished by its narrower leaves, shorter fringe on the petals and preference for more calcareous soils.