Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.

Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information on using native plants in the landscape, issues related to invasive exotic plants, urban wildlife management, and wildlife damage management. It is my intention that this information will assist you in deciphering the multitude of information circulating around the web and condense in some meaningful method as it relates to Kentucky. In addition, I hope to highlight a native plant that can be used in the landscape.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Plant of the Week: Cream Gentian (Gentiana alba or flavida)

This is the first of the gentians to begin flowering in late July to early August.  It can be differentiated by all other gentians because it lacks blue in any part of the flower.  The 1 1/2" tubular flowers occur in a cluster atop a one to two (sometimes three) feet tall plant with typical gentian leaves that are lance shaped and about 3" long and 2" wide.  The white (sometimes off yellow or green) flowers have no fragrance and bumblebees are the primary pollinators.  This is a pretty adaptable plant for the garden because it can tolerate some clay in the soil but likes more moist to average garden soils so that the long taproot can grow deep into the earth.  It can tolerate full sun but the leaves may show some yellowing and prefers partial sun.  The leaves have a bitter taste and so it is probably not a preferred deer browse species.  The genus name comes from Gentius, King of Illyria around 500 B.C.  The species name comes from Latin meaning white. Gentiana alba was first published by Muhlenberg in 1818 and Gray in 1846 first called the species Gentiana flavida. They are the same plant and some experts consider G. alba to be the correct name because it was published first, but other experts consider G. flavida to be the correct name because of a belief that the Muhlenberg publication was invalid under the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature.  The native range for this species is from Canada down to Oklahoma, Arkansas, and North Carolina.  It most often thought of as a prairie or grassland species but also occurs in open woodlands and savannas. In Kentucky it is considered a rare species but it is widely sold in the nursery trade.  There are some interesting notes about this species in that it will hybridize with G. andrewsii giving a different looking flower that is cream colored with light blue tints at the edge of the petals.  In Kentucky, the time of flowering precludes hybridization in the wild, but it is something a hobbyist might undertake.

1 comment:

  1. How beautiful this photo is.Its great there's nature people still out there.