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    The name, "gentian", is derived from "Gentius", a King of Illyria who is reputed to have found the local form of this plant beneficial for curing malaria in his troops.

     Linnaeus named the Gentian genus in 1753.

     See more blue Gentians and white Gentian.

Gentiana prostrata

Gentiana prostrata

Gentiana prostrata

Gentiana prostrata.  Synonym: Chondrophylla prostrata. (Siberian Gentian, Moss Gentian, Pygmy Gentian)
Gentianaceae (Gentian Family)

Alpine.  Tundra.  Summer, fall.
Colorado Trail near Stony Pass, July 26, 2017 and Placer Gulch, July 21, 2012.

Gentiana prostrata

Gentiana prostrata

Gentiana prostrata.  Synonym: Chondrophylla prostrata. (Siberian Gentian, Moss Gentian, Pygmy Gentian)
Gentianaceae (Gentian Family)

Alpine.  Tundra.  Summer, fall.
Below Snowdon Peak, August 1, 2005.

If Gentiana prostrata is noticed at all, it is taken for a bit of blue fabric or a shred of litter.  But another glance and you will notice a lovely plant; once you get down on your belly, you will find a delicate flower in a tiny package. 

If you set out to deliberately look for the plant, you will have a chance of finding it only if you are walking at a snail's pace, with head down, searching.  The miniature beauty greatly rewards the search.  Look for it near and above tree line, especially near melting snow, in wet areas, and near seeps where it might be in the company of Grass of Parnassus, Star Gentian, and Bog Orchids

If you want a real show, shade the tiny flower or touch it and watch how quickly it snaps shut -- as the horizontal one at the left side of the second photograph did for me.  But don't be disappointed if the trick does not work.  Some flowers I have shaded and/or touched have remained opened.

This species was collected in Austria by Thaddaus Haenke in 1789 and Haenke named the plant Gentiana prostrata.  The plant has had several other names assigned to it, including the name "Chondrophylla prostrata" given in 1918 by J. P. Anderson. "Chondrophylla" is from the Greek for "cartilage-like leaves". 

Gentiana prostrata

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Gentiana prostrata