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Dune Gentian

Gentianella uliginosa

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
Bogs, fens, marshes, sand dunes, seaside.

Purple, 5 petals
Long-stalked, dull purple flowers, measuring between 1 and 2cm in size. The sepals are uniquely splayed outwards.
A 2-parted capsule.
Some basal leaves, plus 1 or 2 opposite pairs of leaves can be found on the stem. The leaves are bluntly oval or lance-shaped. Hybridises with Autumn Gentian (Gentianella amarella). Dune Gentian looks like Autumn Gentian but is much smaller.
Other Names:
Marsh Gentian, Welsh Gentian.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Gentianella uliginosa, also known as marsh gentian, is a species of flowering plant in the gentian family. It is native to Europe and Asia, and is found in wetland habitats such as bogs, fens, and marshes.

It is a small, herbaceous perennial plant that grows to be around 15-30 cm tall. The leaves are opposite, lance-shaped, and hairless. The flowers are typically a deep blue color, with fringed petals, and are about 2-3 cm long. They appear in late summer and early autumn. This plant is not protected in UK but it's illegal to pick, uproot or disturb wild plants without permission from the landowner.


Dune Gentian, also known as Gentianella uliginosa, is a beautiful wildflower that can be found in the sandy coastal areas of Europe. This plant is known for its striking blue or purple flowers, which bloom from July to September.

Dune Gentian is a small plant, usually growing up to 20-30 cm in height. It has slender stems and narrow leaves that grow in opposite pairs. The flowers are bell-shaped, with five petals that are a deep blue or purple color. The center of the flower has a yellow-green hue, and the flowers usually grow in clusters at the end of the stems.

Dune Gentian is a hardy plant that can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, but it thrives in sandy soils. It is commonly found in coastal areas, where it grows in dunes and sandbanks. This plant has adapted to the harsh conditions of its environment by developing a deep root system that allows it to survive in dry and nutrient-poor soils.

The flowers of Dune Gentian are pollinated by insects, especially bees and butterflies. The nectar produced by the flowers is an important source of food for these insects. In addition to providing food for pollinators, Dune Gentian is also a host plant for the larvae of some butterfly species, such as the Chalkhill Blue.

Dune Gentian has a number of medicinal uses. It has been traditionally used to treat digestive disorders, liver and gallbladder problems, and to stimulate appetite. The plant contains bitter compounds that are thought to improve digestion and increase the production of bile. However, as with any medicinal plant, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before using it for medicinal purposes.

Dune Gentian has also been used in traditional herbal medicine as a natural remedy for a variety of ailments. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties and has been used to treat rheumatism, arthritis, and joint pain. It has also been used as a diuretic, to reduce swelling and water retention.

In addition to its medicinal properties, Dune Gentian has also been used in culinary applications. The plant has a bitter taste, which can be used to enhance the flavor of certain dishes. The leaves and flowers can be added to salads, or used to make teas and infusions. However, it is important to note that consuming large quantities of Dune Gentian can be harmful, as it can cause stomach irritation and digestive issues.

Like many wildflowers, Dune Gentian is threatened by habitat loss and degradation. Coastal development, tourism, and climate change have all contributed to the decline of this species. In some areas, the plant is protected by law, and it is important to practice responsible and sustainable tourism and development practices to help preserve this valuable species.

Dune Gentian is also a popular ornamental plant in gardens, particularly in rock gardens and alpine gardens. Its striking blue or purple flowers add color and interest to these types of gardens, and its hardiness makes it a great choice for gardeners looking for low-maintenance plants.

Growing Dune Gentian in a garden requires some care and attention to mimic its natural sandy coastal environment. It prefers well-draining soil that is on the acidic side, and it should be planted in a sunny or partially shaded location. It is important to avoid overwatering, as the plant is adapted to survive in dry soil conditions.

Propagation of Dune Gentian can be done through seeds or cuttings. Seeds should be sown in the spring or fall in a well-draining soil mix, and kept moist until they germinate. Cuttings can be taken in the spring or summer, and should be rooted in a moist soil mix before being transplanted.

In addition to its ornamental and medicinal uses, Dune Gentian is also an important indicator of the health of coastal sand dune ecosystems. It is often used as a bioindicator to monitor the effects of coastal development and other environmental stressors on these fragile ecosystems.

Dune Gentian is not only important for its ecological and medicinal value, but it also holds cultural significance in some regions where it grows. In some areas of Europe, Dune Gentian is associated with folklore and superstition. It is believed that the plant has the power to ward off evil spirits, and it has been used in rituals and ceremonies to bring good luck and fortune.

In some cultures, Dune Gentian is also associated with love and romance. It is believed that the plant has aphrodisiac properties, and that it can increase one's feelings of passion and desire. In ancient times, it was even used as a love potion.

Despite its cultural significance, it is important to remember that Dune Gentian is a valuable and fragile species that requires protection and conservation efforts. Habitat loss, climate change, and other environmental stressors are threatening the survival of this plant, and it is up to all of us to take action to protect it.

Some ways to help protect Dune Gentian and other threatened plant species include supporting conservation organizations, participating in habitat restoration projects, and reducing our impact on the environment through sustainable practices such as reducing waste and using eco-friendly products. By working together, we can help ensure that Dune Gentian and other valuable plant species continue to thrive for generations to come.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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