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Oregon's Yellowstone Wildflower of the Week #15

Posted by Wendell Wood at Sep 06, 2010 08:00 AM |
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Oregon's Yellowstone hosts 1,400 known plant species--over 100 of which are found nowhere else on Earth. This week's flower is fit for a king...

Oregon's Yellowstone Wildflower of the Week #15

King's Gentian (photo by Wendell Wood)

The Siskiyou Wild Rivers area in southwestern Oregon is one of the few regions in the lower 48 with such extraordinary biodiversity. Even Pliny the Elder had something to say about this kind of flower.

King's Gentian, Gentiana septrum

When most of the spring and summer season’s wildflowers are well past their blooming period, suddenly out pops the Gentians—which are found in August and sometimes even into October.

Gentiana septrum or King's Gentian is found primarily in sphagnum bogs along the Oregon coast, but also in other wet meadows and boggy lake margins, as in the Cascades on the Mount Hood National Forest.


Gentians are named for Gentius, the ancient king of Illyria--a region in the western part of today's Balkan Peninsula. The Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder, in his Historia King's GentianNaturalis (77 AD), claimed that King Gentius discovered medicinal vitures in extracts made from plants of this family.  The specific name suggests the scepter-like shape of individual stems, each crowned by an infolded cup like flower.

Gentians are pollinated mostly by bumblebees, which can best push their way through the tubular folds into the throats of the flowers.  This species’ deep-blue flowers are one to one and a half inches long, and like some other Gentian species, have dark-green speckles inside.

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