Thursday, September 13, 2012


Donald A. Windsor

Closed (=Bottle) Gentian (Gentiana clausa) is a flower that, as the name implies, remains closed.  When in full bloom, it still looks like a bud.  It is pollinated by bumblebees that are strong enough to open the flowers (Cox, page 217).

Two similar species of Closed Gentian exist.  They must be differentiated by opening the flower and seeing if the membranes between the petals are longer than the petals (G. andrewsii) or even (G. clausa).  Newcomb & Morrison have a good illustration on page 253.  Peterson & McKenny, page 321, do not.  Niering & Olmstead have a good photo on Plate 650 showing the longer white-tipped membrane protruding from the top of the closed G. andrewsii flower.  Cox has it backwards.  I will go with Newcomb & Morrison, who call G. andrewsii Fringed-tip Closed Gentian.

On Sunday 2 September 2012, Carol Smith found a few plants blooming in the drainage ditch along Mud Lane in the Town of Otselic.  I took the photo shown here on 12 September 2012 along the Truck Trail in the Whaupaunaucau State Forest in the Town of North Norwich.  I had seen some near Clement's lean-to back in the early 1990s, but then they disappeared, apparently from the increasing shade.  This clump was discovered by John Carhart last year (2011).  The plants look as if they had been growing here for several years.

References cited:

Cox, Donald D. et alia. Common flowering plants of the Northeast. Their Natural History and Uses.  Albany, NY: State University Press.  1985.  420 pages. 

Newcomb, Lawrence ; Morrison, Gordon.  Newcomb's Wildflower Guide.  Boston, MA: Little, Brown. 1977.  490 pages.

Niering, William A. ; Olmstead, Nancy C. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Eastern Region.  New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf.  1979.  888 pages.

Peterson, Roger Tory ; McKenny, Margaret.  A Field Guide to Wildflowers of Northeastern and Northcentral North America.  Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.  1968.  420 pages.