Perennial with thick roots that penetrate deep underground. Multiple stems may emerge from the taproot. Maroon coloured stems are smooth and unbranched. Stalkless, lance shaped leaves — also smooth — have a glossy appearance. Clusters of blue flowers grow at the stem end or in the axis of the top leaves. Five parted flowers are bottle shaped with closed tops and a fold between the petals; they turn purple as they age. Fruit is an elliptic capsule with numerous flat, winged, smooth seeds. Takes three years from germination to flower.
Also known as bottle gentian.
9,000,000 seeds/pound; starts from seed, container.
Moist thickets, meadows, forest clearings.
Bumblebees navigate into the closed petals to collect nectar and pollinate the flowers. Plants are a food source for groundhogs and some insects.
North American aboriginals used a compress made from the roots for back pain and to treat snakebites.