Found on dry, calcareous grasslands and sand dunes, Autumn Gentian is a late-flowering biennial - the leaves grow in the first year, and the flowering stem appears in the second. It can sometimes be found growing in large groups, its spikes of purple blooms appearing from July to October.
How to identify
Autumn Gentian has mauve five- or four-petalled flowers that branch off from the main, reddish stem on short stalks. The flowers look like tubes that have been flattened at the top with a protruding inner ring of 'ribbons' surrounding the central parts. Narrow, pointed leaves appear in opposite pairs on the stem and have a reddish tinge.
Where to find it
Scattered across the UK with most concentrations in southern England.
When to find it
How can people help
The Wildlife Trusts manage many grassland and coastal habitats for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. Careful grazing with traditional breeds, hay-cutting at the right time and scrub clearance are just some of the ways these fragile habitats are kept in good condition - supporting wildflowers like Autumn Gentian and, in turn, invertebrates and the larger animals that prey on them. By volunteering for your local Trust you can help too, and you'll make new friends and learn new skills along the way.