Gentianella hirculus

The second last entry in the series on Gentianaceae takes us to the Páramo of southern Ecuador, a high-altitude grassland ecosystem dominated by bunch-grasses. Another big thank you to Eric in SF@Flickr for sharing his photographs (original image | Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool).

The question was asked by Mary Hamilton in the comment section to Gentiana calycosa as to whether one of the “closed gentians” (that can be seen in New Jersey) would be featured. Mary was probably thinking of Gentiana andrewsii (see more photos), but there are other “closed” gentians and gentian relatives, including Gentianella quinquefolia and today’s species, Gentianella hirculus.

Gentianella means “dwarf gentian” — today’s species reaches only 10cm (4in.) tall. The centre of diversity for the genus is South America, though the two hundred plus species are distributed throughout most temperate regions of the world. Gentianella hirculus is considered endangered by the IUCN Red List, with only 12 populations of plants remaining in the wild. Threats include grazing and, paradoxically, visitors to the park where most (all?) plants reside.

“Closed” gentians are either known or assumed to be pollinated by long-tongued bees (example). Take that, Gene Simmons.

Gentianella hirculus

14 responses to “Gentianella hirculus”

  1. Claire B (Saskatoon)

    Those flowers are stunning! They look like miniature hot-air balloons.

  2. Quin

    yes, just almost unbelievable. enjoy the Kiss humor! thank you both again and also once again so sad to hear of its status

  3. Justine M

    These photos remind me of what a beautiful place the earth is. Thanks for the information. I really hope these populations will have a great chance at survival… despite the odds.

  4. Mary Ann, in Toronto

    . . . yes, Justine, how beautiful and how varied/diverse.

  5. James Gaither (J.G. in S.F.)

    Spectacular coloration…

  6. annie Morgan

    Spectacular indeed!

  7. PNS

    Thanks for the info on the Gentianopsis detonsa. Sorry it took me a couple of days to get back to you, but the directions make sense, and mid-July, so maybe someday…
    The hirculus is wonderful!

  8. Tammy

    absolutely gorgeous!

  9. Irma

    Nature at its most fascinating and the lengths it “goes to” to evolve. The colours and the mode of pollinating. Which poses the question och what came first the flower or the long-tounged bee and what circumstances made them develop over the ages.

  10. Don Fenton

    Mary Hamilton is one of the “Four Marys” famed in Scots folk song.

  11. elizabeth a airhart

    great colors -peony buds look have
    the same look before opening- and wrapped candy
    thank you eric you were perhaps eye level
    with your camera tis so bright and sharp
    thank you daniel-perhaps you will post
    pictures from the olympics

  12. phillip

    claire b…took the words out of my mouth..!!
    resident of N.M…lots of ballons…!

  13. Slobada

    That’s a circus tent for garden fairies… Super cool!

  14. Kai-Philipp Schablewski

    The picture shows the related species Gentianella hyssopifolia, not Gentianella hirculus.

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