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Pale Gentian, Striped Gentian, Sampsons Snakeroot - Gentiana villosa


Family: Gentianaceae - Gentian family Genus Common Name: Gentian Native Status: NativeDicot Perennial Herb
Gentiana villosa - Pale Gentian, Striped Gentian, Sampsons Snakeroot. Although at least one Gentiana species is found in every state in the United States (as well as most of Canada), Gentian villosa is found only in the southeastern quadrant of the country, as far north as Indiana, Ohio New York and New Jersey. It is Endangered in Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Pale Gentian, also known as Striped Gentian, is a plant of forests and open woods, and as with many Gentians, blooms from late August into November.

Found in:
AL, DC, DE, FL, GA, IN, KY, LA, MD, MS, NC, NJ, OH, PA, SC, TN, VA, WV

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Gentiana villosa

Distribution of Gentiana villosa in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 22 Jun 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2012-October-15Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
The white corolla with green striping is the predominant coloring for the Pale Gentian blossom, but, while this example only shows the slightest of purple lines, it can have much more purple than this. The white can vary to yellowish, more frequently as the blossom ages. The flowers are clustered at the top of the plant. Some Gentian blossoms do not open, but those of Gentian villosa will usually open partially.
Gentiana villosa

Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2012-October-15Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Gentiana villosa can grow to nearly tow feet tall. The leaves are opposite. The origin of the species epithet “villosa” is a mystery to me since the plant is not hairy.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Gentiana villosa

Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2012-October-15Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The leaves of Gentiana are spatulate to obovate - both of these terms indicate that the wides part of the leaf is toward the tip rather than toward the stem; this is an important species indicator. They are dark green, 2 to 4 inches long, and sessile, although since it narrows at the stem at a glance it can almost appear to have a petiole, especially in the lower leaves.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Gentiana villosa

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer