An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Bottle Gentian’s Pollinators

9-17-14  bottle gentian 259The combination of Bottle Gentian’s (Gentiana clausa) blossoms’ brilliant purple/blue color, their shape, and the difficulty insects have in prying open the bottle neck their petals form, make them a highlight of every September. Getting inside their flowers is a monumental task, and one that few insects, other than fairly large species of bumblebees, attempt — much less accomplish. It takes several seconds of pushing, shoving and cramming to get their head through the miniscule opening at the top of the blossom. Eventually their body follows, sliding down into the flower. While the whole bee sometimes disappears, it’s more usual to see their hind legs poking out of the flower while they lap up nectar. Not only are bumblebees strong, but their tongues (see insert) are long enough to reach the copious amount of sugar-laden nectar that awaits them inside the flower.

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8 responses

  1. Jon Binhammer

    Mary: I think this species is Gentiana clausa – andrewsii is a rare plant in VT, found only on the islands in Lake Champlain – andrewsii has a small amount of fringe at the top of the flower, whereas clausa is smooth at the top. Both are called bottle gentian.

    September 18, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    • Hi Jon,
      Thank you so much! I had not been aware that there was another species so similar, and you are absolutely correct, it is G.clausa! I will bring that to people’s attention. Many thanks.

      September 18, 2014 at 2:36 pm

  2. Elizabeth Gibson

    Some things are worth the effort!

    September 18, 2014 at 2:09 pm

  3. Kathie Fiveash

    What beautiful pictures.

    September 18, 2014 at 2:15 pm

  4. That photograph is wonderful.

    September 18, 2014 at 5:27 pm

  5. Coleman Hoyt

    Dear Mary:
    Thank you for two more closed gentian photos !
    My patch is doing well this September des[pite
    the hungry Deer (?) who bite off the buds

    Coleman Hoyt (one of your Lakota Club friends)

    September 18, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    • That’s great, Coleman! Glad you managed to get some blossoms even with hungry herbivores!

      September 18, 2014 at 8:43 pm

  6. Great photo – bottoms up!

    September 20, 2014 at 2:43 am

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