The Gentianaceae series is concluded with two photographs taken by local plant guru Alan Tracey (thank you!). They are photographs of the same species of gentian, but from locations over 12 000km (7000miles) apart. The image with many flowers was taken in La Parva, Chile, while the solitary flower was photographed somewhere along the Dempster Highway in the Northwest Territories of Canada.
Gentiana prostrata, or pygmy gentian, is a low-growing 3-7cm (to 3in.) tall annual. Its preferred habitat is wet meadows of high altitudes or tundra. Conflicting accounts of its range abound; the Flora of China account does not mention South America, nor does The Jepson Manual. Though both of these cite Eurasia and western North America, the absence of South America is curious. The species, after all, was collected by Darwin near the Straits of Magellan during the Voyage of The Beagle. Perhaps it is because the species was thought to have been dispersed to South America by albatross (might be a subscription-only link)?
Gentiana prostrata was scientifically described by the Bohemian-born botanist, Tadeáš Haenke. To read more about Haenke, an excellent compilation of articles about his life are presented in the Botanical Electronic News, Issues 287 and 288.