Gentiana prostrata

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.

Gentiana prostrata
Gentiana prostrata

13 responses to “Gentiana prostrata”

  1. Meg Bernstein

    I really like working through a family like this, it’s interesting to see the variation between so many species in one group.

  2. Leanne

    I agree with you Meg.
    This plant is so cute, it makes me go awwww.

  3. Sara

    I also enjoyed working through a family. Very educational. I love the daily photos and very much appreciate your efforts.

  4. Julie

    Lovely flowers, and the warm sun shining in the photo also fills me with nostalgia for better weather (33 degrees F and heavy heavy rain now). I look forward to every day’s photo in my inbox; have particularly enjoyed the gentians.

  5. Quin

    yes, I vote for more families in review as well. Daniel, is that a Sedum to the right of the specimen from the Northwest Territories? species?

  6. Ann Rein

    I concur with the others who are enjoying the review of families, it’s very interesting to see the varieties contained within a genus!

  7. Dianne Saichek

    Albatross probably IS a subscription-only link!! a sweet fleur and a clever write-up.

  8. elizabeth a airhart

    it is nice i think to be able to
    walk the world and meet the same tribe
    in unexpected places
    i read haenke’s storey an early plant hunter
    off to see an unkown world -thank you
    i wonder where the collection may be if at all

  9. He Who Lives With Yankees

    “is a low-growing 3-7cm (to 3in.) tall annual.”
    Low-growing or tall? Which is it?

  10. Al Schneider

    Thank you for the time you put into your very nice web site. I came to it today for the first time as I was researching the proper name for what has most often been called “Tragopogon pratensis”, Meadow Salsify. The USDA Plants Database and John Kartesz ( and The Synthesis of the North American Flora) now accept the name, “Tragopogon lamottei”.
    Regarding your lovely plant of the day, Gentiana prostrata: your article might make it seem that Darwin was the first to collect this plant. He was not. It was collected (in 1789), named, and described by Haenke.
    If your web site viewers would like to see more photographs of it, some other very nice Gentians, and 800 species of plants of the Rockies and nearby high deserts, they can look at my non-commercial web site, . William Weber, Colorado plant authority, maintains that Gentiana protrata should be called Chondrophylla prostrata. You can see it on my web site at

  11. Kate

    OMG! these are the sweetest little flowers!

  12. Daniel Mosquin

    I don’t think one would say it is a low-growing 3-7cm short annual. I’m not ~200cm _short_ — I’m around 200cm tall.

  13. Karin

    Does anybody have digital pictures of Santalum album, Myroxylon balsamum var. pereirae and Victoria amazonica with a beetle in the flower – in high resolution? I need it urgently for our special exhibition about scent.
    Thank you in advance.
    Karin Komptscher
    Dr. Karin Kompatscher
    The Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle
    Die Gärten von Schloss Trauttmansdorff
    I Giardini di Castel Trauttmansdorff
    St.-Valentin-Str. 51a Via S. Valentino
    I-39012 Meran/Merano
    Tel. +39 0473 235730
    Fax +39 0473 235731

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