Bottle Gentians

One of my favorite late-summer wildflowers is the bottle gentian (Gentiana andrewsii), which grows in sunny, moist patches along the dirt road next to our cabin.  The tightly closed oval flowers, which never open into a blossom, are all deep blue so far this year, but in the past, I’ve also seen powder blue, pearly white, and light pink blooms.  The plants are about 18 inches tall and the flowers are clustered together at the top.

Bottle gentians grow in sunny, moist patches.

Bottle gentians grow in sunny, moist patches.

Because the blooms are narrow and closed, they primarily are pollinated by bumble bees, which are strong enough to wiggle their way into the flower.  A bumble bee pollinated several of the blooms on the bottle gentian that I was photographing.

A bumble bee pushes its way into the closed bloom.

A bumble bee pushes its way into the closed bloom.

After pollinating the gentian, the bumble bee backs out of the bloom.

After pollinating the gentian, the bumble bee backs out of the flower.