With snow on the peaks of Colorado’s Rockies, wildflowers are but a distant memory. Here are some late-blooming flowers of one of my favorite plant families, the Gentian Family. Gentians usually have distinctive bell-shaped or tubular flowers in four or five parts. Most of the plants have leaves that grow opposite on the stem. There are 87 genera and over 1,600 species of Gentian Worldwide and 13 genera native to North America. Most plants of the Gentian family contain bitter parts that stimulate the digestive system. In Europe especially, there are many spirits and bitters made from the Gentian plants.
One of the first Gentians to appear in summer is the Green Gentian or Monument Plant. This unusual plant can grow for 30 to 40 years as just a rosette of green leaves before a giant stalk up to 6 feet tall springs up covered with green flowers.
Later in the season the Parry’s Gentian, Gentiana parryi, and Fringed Gentian, Gentianopsis thermalis begin blooming in mountain meadows along with the Star Gentian, Swertia perennis. These 3 Gentians can bloom well into late fall.
.Another Gentian that blooms from summer into fall at higher elevations is the Arctic or Whitish Gentian, Gentiana algida. This plant with its white tubular flowers with blue streaks often is seen in patches in the alpine tundra.
To learn more about the Gentian Family and over 270 wildflowers, look for my Rocky Mountain Wildflowers Field Guide at www.HighCountryArtworks.com or on Amazon. Also, for year-round wildflower enjoyment, check out the 2018 Wildflowers of the American West Calendar.