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Field Gentian

Gentianella campestris

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Gentianaceae (Gentian)
Life Cycle:
Annual or Biennial
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Grassland, heathland, meadows, roadsides, sand dunes, sea cliffs, woodland.

Purple, 4 petals
3cm in length. The petals and sepals are fused. The two outer petals are much larger than the two overlapping inner petals. Throughout the British Isles, Field Gentian is most common in Scotland. Outside Cumbria this plant is not very common in England and Wales. The Autumn Gentian is a similar looking plant, but Field Gentian has got paler flowers.
A fruit capsule.
A biennial plant (or sometimes perennial) with narrow, opposite, unstalked, oval to lanceolate leaves.
Other Names:
Field Gentianella.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Gentianella campestris, also known as Field Gentian or Field Gentianella, is a species of flowering plant in the gentian family (Gentianaceae). It is native to Europe and Asia, and is typically found growing in grasslands, meadows, and other open habitats. The plant has blue, funnel-shaped flowers and narrow, lanceolate leaves, and typically grows to be between 10 and 30 cm tall. Field Gentian is a perennial species, meaning it lives for more than one year and typically blooms during the months of August and September.


Field Gentian (Gentianella campestris) is a small yet striking wildflower native to Europe. It belongs to the Gentianaceae family, which is well-known for its beautiful and colorful flowers. Field Gentian is a hardy and resilient plant that grows in a variety of habitats, from grasslands and meadows to rocky slopes and mountainous regions. In this blog post, we will explore some interesting facts and features of this lovely wildflower.

Description and Characteristics

Field Gentian is a small, annual or biennial plant that typically grows up to 20 cm in height. It has a slender, erect stem that is usually unbranched, and lance-shaped leaves that are arranged in opposite pairs along the stem. The flowers of Field Gentian are a striking blue-violet color, with funnel-shaped petals that are fused at the base. They are usually solitary and bloom from July to September. The plant is also known for its deep taproot, which allows it to survive in dry and nutrient-poor soils.

Habitat and Distribution

Field Gentian is a common wildflower in Europe, where it is found in a wide range of habitats, including meadows, grasslands, heaths, and rocky slopes. It is also found in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of Europe and Asia. In the United Kingdom, Field Gentian is mainly found in the uplands of Scotland and the north of England, where it grows in acidic soils.

Uses and Benefits

Field Gentian has been used in traditional medicine for centuries, particularly for its bitter properties. The plant contains bitter compounds that stimulate digestion and have a tonic effect on the liver and gallbladder. It has also been used to treat fever, inflammation, and respiratory problems. However, it should be noted that the use of Field Gentian for medicinal purposes should be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

In addition to its medicinal properties, Field Gentian has also been used as a natural dye. The flowers can be used to create a beautiful blue-violet color, which was traditionally used to dye wool and silk.


Despite being a common wildflower in Europe, Field Gentian is listed as a species of conservation concern in some countries, including the United Kingdom. Its decline is mainly attributed to habitat loss, caused by changes in land use and intensive agriculture. It is therefore important to protect and conserve the habitats where Field Gentian grows to ensure its survival for future generations.

Ecological Importance

Field Gentian plays an important role in the ecology of the habitats where it grows. Its deep taproot helps to stabilize the soil and prevent erosion, while its flowers provide a source of nectar for bees and other pollinators. In addition, Field Gentian is a host plant for the larvae of several species of moths, including the Gentian Pug moth (Eupithecia expallidata).

Cultural Significance

Field Gentian has a long history of cultural significance in Europe. In some countries, it is considered a symbol of good luck and fortune. In Germany, it is believed that carrying a sprig of Field Gentian can protect against evil spirits and bring success in love and business. In France, Field Gentian is known as "gentiane jaune" and is used to flavor the famous liqueur, Suze.

Identification and Similar Species

Field Gentian can be easily identified by its slender stem, lance-shaped leaves, and striking blue-violet flowers. However, it can be easily confused with other species of Gentianella, such as the Autumn Gentian (Gentianella amarella) and the Early Gentian (Gentianella anglica). These species have similar flowers but bloom at different times of the year and have slightly different leaf shapes.

In summary, Field Gentian is a fascinating and important wildflower with a rich cultural and ecological history. Its striking blue-violet flowers, bitter properties, and hardy nature make it a valuable plant for many different purposes. Protecting and conserving its habitats is essential for ensuring its survival and continued ecological and cultural significance.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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