Continuing with the series on the gentian family, Gentiana calycosa is a true gentian, commonly known as mountain bog gentian, mountain gentian, explorer’s gentian or Rainier pleated gentian. This photograph was taken in early August on the flanks of Mt. Adams, Washington, in the same area as these images of Gentiana calycosa.
The common name Rainier pleated gentian hints at a western North American distribution, and that is indeed the case, with a range from British Columbia to California and east to western Wyoming (as an aside, I know some of you get impatient with photographs from western North America, but it’s what I have on hand–there’ll be at least one photograph from elsewhere in the world later in the series). Other common names, as you might surmise, rightly suggest it is a species of subalpine and alpine environments along streams, wet meadows and bogs.
The epithet calycosa means “full calyx”, and I’m afraid I don’t know why that is noteworthy in comparison to other gentians.
Cultivation of Gentiana calycosa is possible, but according to the Encyclopedia of Northwest Native Plants for Gardens and Landscapes, it is “a perennial for the determined, patient gardener”. This is due to its preference for moist, yet well-drained soils–in other words, trying to replicate a mountain environment with a cool stream or seep.