Arctic Gentian Plant Profiles

The Arctic Gentian is part of the Gentianaceae (Gentian)  family. This plant family has over four hundred species of herbaceous perennials. The Arctic Gentian is a relative of the Mountain Gentian. Gentianodes algida is the scientific classification of this plant. It is considered a leafy herb.

 Meadows, stream banks and areas near ponds are a few of the places that the Arctic Gentian can be found. It survives in the life zones called subalpine and alpine which range from ten thousand to fourteen thousand feet in elevation. It can be seen in the state of Colorado. They are also found in parts of Montana, Arkansas’ and parts of eastern Siberia.

The Arctic Gentian blossoms late in the summer, usually in August. It is found in abundance over large areas of alpine meadows. They tend to grow best in moist areas that are well drained. The gentians are more abundant in the northern hemisphere than anywhere else. They can grow anywhere from the tropics to the tundras near the Arctic Circle.

The Arctic Gentian is a tufted perennial with short rhizomes (stems usually found underground.) It has one to several stems that are hairless and leafy. The leaves are about five to ten millimeters wide with basal (leaves that grow from the lowest part of the stem) leaves that are linear to lance shaped and ranging from four to twelve centimeters in length. The stem leaves have joined bases and are opposite. They grow in three to five pairs and are lance shaped ranging from three to five centimeters long.

The flower of the Arctic Gentian is nearly as tall as the plant itself and is several inches in height. The blooms are creamy white to greenish white in color. They have purple streaks on the outside and purple dots on the inside. They usually grow in terminal pairs.  The blooms can be vase or funnel shaped and are five-lobed. They have pleats in notches with all of the parts being connected to the plant at the base of the ovary. The fruit is capsule shaped.

The beautiful blooms of the Arctic Gentian make it a desirable plant for cultivation. Avid gardeners often use it as an ornamental flower. Some cultures have used some parts of the plant to make poultices and some teas. Nowadays it is primarily collected for it beauty. The large blossoms are striking with their unusual color combination.