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Chiltern Gentian

Gentianella germanica

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.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Gentianaceae (Gentian)
Life Cycle:
Annual or Biennial
Maximum Size:
20 centimetres tall
Grassland, rocky places, scrub, woodland.

Purple, 5 petals
Purple tube or bell-shaped flowers. Similar in appearance to Autumn Gentian (Gentianella amarella) but with broader petals and a broader sepal-tube at the tip.
The fruit is a 2-sectioned capsule.
The unstalked leaves are undivided, toothless and in opposite pairs up the stem. The similar looking Autumn Gentian has narrower leaves. Chiltern Gentian often hybridises with Autumn Gentian. Most common around the north and west of London.
Other Names:
German Gentian, Scarce Autumn Felwort.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


The Chiltern gentian (Gentianella germanica) is a species of flowering plant in the gentian family. It is native to Europe, and is found in a variety of habitats, including chalk and limestone grassland, woodland clearings, and rocky outcrops. The Chiltern gentian has vibrant blue, bell-shaped flowers that bloom in late summer and early autumn, and is a protected plant in the UK.


Chiltern Gentian, also known as Gentianella germanica, is a beautiful flowering plant that belongs to the Gentianaceae family. This plant is native to Europe and can be found in various parts of the continent, including the Alps, the Pyrenees, and the Carpathians.

The Chiltern Gentian is a small plant that typically grows to a height of 5-20 cm. It has bright blue flowers with five petals that are arranged in a star-like shape. The flowers are usually open during the day and close at night, and they bloom in late summer or early autumn.

One of the distinctive features of the Chiltern Gentian is its habitat preference. It typically grows in chalk grasslands and other areas with calcareous soil. In the UK, it can be found in the Chilterns, which is where it gets its common name.

Chiltern Gentians are not only beautiful but also have a long history of use in traditional medicine. The plant contains bitter compounds that are believed to stimulate digestion and improve appetite. In some cultures, the roots and leaves of the Chiltern Gentian are also used to treat liver and gallbladder problems.

Unfortunately, the Chiltern Gentian is now classified as a vulnerable species due to habitat loss and fragmentation caused by agricultural practices, urbanization, and other human activities. Conservation efforts are being made to protect this beautiful plant, including the establishment of protected areas, habitat restoration, and monitoring of wild populations.

In addition to its ecological and cultural significance, the Chiltern Gentian is also a popular garden plant. Its bright blue flowers add a splash of color to rock gardens and alpine beds, and it can be grown from seed or propagated by division.

The Chiltern Gentian is also an important plant for pollinators, as it provides nectar and pollen for bees and other insects. In fact, the plant's blue flowers are thought to be adapted to attract pollinators such as bumblebees, which have a preference for blue flowers.

Furthermore, the Chiltern Gentian has been used in scientific research due to its bitter compounds, which have been found to have potential therapeutic effects. Studies have shown that these compounds may have anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, and anti-microbial properties, making the Chiltern Gentian a valuable resource for pharmaceutical research.

Despite its cultural, ecological, and scientific significance, the Chiltern Gentian remains threatened by human activities. It is important that we continue to raise awareness of the plant's importance and support conservation efforts to protect it and its habitat.

In addition to conservation efforts, there are steps that individuals can take to support the Chiltern Gentian and other vulnerable plant species. This includes planting native wildflowers in gardens, supporting local conservation organizations, and avoiding the use of pesticides and herbicides.

The Chiltern Gentian is also an excellent plant for rock gardens and alpine gardens, as it prefers well-drained, rocky soil. It can be grown from seed or propagated by division, making it a relatively easy plant to cultivate.

In addition, the Chiltern Gentian has been used in various cultural traditions and folklore. In Germanic folklore, for example, the plant was associated with love and fidelity, and was believed to bring good luck to couples who picked it on their wedding day.

The Chiltern Gentian is also a great example of a plant that has adapted to its environment. Its preference for calcareous soil, for example, is due to the fact that the plant has evolved to extract nutrients from this type of soil. The plant's blue flowers, which attract pollinators, are also an example of adaptation. Blue is a color that is not very common in nature, and it is believed that the Chiltern Gentian's blue flowers are a way to attract specific pollinators, such as bumblebees, which have a preference for blue flowers.

Furthermore, the Chiltern Gentian is not the only species of gentian that is valued for its medicinal properties. Many other species of gentian, including the Yellow Gentian (Gentiana lutea) and the Chinese Gentian (Gentiana scabra), have been used in traditional medicine for centuries. In fact, the bitter compounds found in gentians are still used in modern medicine today, particularly in the treatment of digestive disorders.

Finally, the Chiltern Gentian is a great example of a plant that can benefit both humans and wildlife. By providing nectar and pollen for pollinators, the plant supports the health and well-being of local ecosystems. By providing beauty and cultural significance, it enriches our lives and our connection to the natural world. And by providing potential therapeutic benefits, it offers a valuable resource for scientific research and the development of new medicines.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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