Blue is #8…

Everything about Wildflower #8 is rare. I knew that when I started my search twenty-five years ago but I was determined to find the Fringed Gentian (pronounced GEN-shun). I waited for a bright sunny day in late October and carefully strolled through a State Preserve in West-Central Ohio. The bog was dry now but most of the year it was covered with several inches of water and a foot of mud underneath. I was 100 feet away when I noticed the brilliant blue of my first Fringed Gentian. Despite signs warning visitors to stay on the boardwalk trail, I carefully ventured into the dry bog which in wetter times is home to Sundews, Pitcher Plants, Cottonmouths, and untold denizens of northern swamps. As I approached the solitary plant, the blue hue became bolder and I saw about a half-dozen cupped blossoms each with a white throat, bright blue petals and the telltale fringed edges. There was no doubt I had finally found a Gentianopsis crinita – the Greater Fringed Gentian.

Just finding a Fringed Gentian is part of the beauty!

I wondered what pollinator would service my blue jewel as early frosts would have decimated most pollen workers. A few small ants were seen making their way to the flower’s center and I learned later that they indeed were feeding on nectar but the primary pollinator were several native bees which lived in warmer holes near the meadow’s drier edges.

The blossom only opens on bright sunny days.

So what blooms with the Fringed Gentian? Absolutely nothing! Perhaps a Goldenrod would have survived frosty conditions but the surrounding area was nothing but wilted plants, dead branches, and tufts of stubborn grass. The time window for the Fringed Gentian is unique – late October and early November. The microenvironment is also unique for Central Ohio – a native bog that somehow became protected and survived the farming, industrial, and residential onslaught that is central Ohio. I felt elated that here, before me, was one of the rarest of the rare and a beautiful rarity at that!

The Calico Aster could be a companion Fall bloomer.
The Goldenrod would also be a nearby companion wildflower.

1 thought on “Blue is #8…

  1. Those are great!

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