Early gentian

Scientific name: Gentianella anglica
The early gentian is a rare plant that is only found in the UK. It likes sunny, lowland chalk grasslands, its purple, trumpet-shaped flowers blooming in May and June.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 20cm

Conservation status

Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework. European Protected Species under Annex IV of the European Habitats Directive.

When to see

May to June

About

Early gentian is a small, rare annual or biennial wildflower. It grows on chalk grassland, favouring south-facing slopes with thin soil that are grazed to keep the vegetation cover low. Its purple, trumpet-shaped flowers appear in branching clusters from May to June, much earlier than its relative, the autumn gentian. Its seeds can remain in the ground for several years before growing, so colonies may only appear every few years.

How to identify

The early gentian displays purple, four- or five-petalled, trumpet-shaped flowers that have fine white stamens inside them. It has long, narrow, green leaves that are unstalked, growing directly from the stem.

Distribution

Found in Central and Southern England.

Did you know?

The early gentian is endemic to the UK, meaning it is only found here and nowhere else in the world.