Gentianella quinquefolia (L.) Small

Stiff Gentian

Habitat: Rich woods, wet, gravelly banks, damp fields.

Range: Maine south to Georgia and Mississippi, north to Ontario

Aids to Identification: Gentians flower late in the season (late summer into fall). There are 3 genera of gentians in Maine: gentians with fused petals, so the flower appears closed (Gentiana), gentians with fringed petals (Gentianopsis), and gentians with open flowers that are not fringed (Gentianella). Gentianella species are recognized by their opposite, sessile leaves with entire margins and flowers with 4 pale blue or pink petals that are funnelform in shape. Stiff gentian is distinguished from G. amarella (ranked S1 in Maine) by the presence of a bristle tip on the petals and absence of hairs at the base of the petal lobes (G. amarella has hairs and lacks a bristle tip).

Ecological characteristics: Ecological relationships in Maine are poorly understood.

Phenology: An annual, flowers in mid to late August in Maine.

Family: Gentianaceae

Synonyms: Maine and New England populations are represented by subspecies quinquefolia. Synonyms include Gentiana amarelloides Michx.; Gentiana quinquefolia L.

Known Distribution in Maine: This rare plant has been documented from a total of 3 towns in the following counties: Cumberland, Oxford

Reason(s) for rarity: At northern limit of range.

Conservation considerations: Unknown, has not been seen in Maine in over 50 years. Some populations may have succumbed to residential development.