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Marsh Gentian

Gentiana pneumonanthe

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:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Bogs, fens, grassland, heathland, marshes, meadows, wetland, woodland.

Blue, 5 petals
Bright blue, trumpet-shaped flowers, up to 4cm in size. The flowers are striped with green. White flowers are rare. 5 white stamens. Spreading, pinkish anthers. Pollinated by bees and butterflies.
The fruit is a capsule.
An erect perennial flower with opposite leaves, linear in shape. There are two similar garden species which can be found, (a) Willow Gentian which has broader leaves and (b) Clusius's Gentian which has most of its leaves in a basal rosette. The stems of Marsh Gentian are often tinged red.
Other Names:
Autumn Bell Flower, Calathian Violet, Harvest Bells, Lung Flower, The Closed Gentian.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Gentiana pneumonanthe, 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 to medium-sized perennial herb that grows to be around 20-60cm tall. Leaves are opposite, oval to lanceolate, and have long petioles. Flowers are typically a deep blue color and trumpet-shaped, with a closed corolla tube and a wide throat, around 2-3cm long. They appear in late summer and early autumn. It is protected in most of Europe and it's illegal to pick, uproot or disturb wild plants without permission from the landowner.


Marsh Gentian, also known as Gentiana pneumonanthe, is a stunning flowering plant that belongs to the Gentianaceae family. This plant is native to wetlands and bogs in Europe, Asia, and North America. It is a herbaceous perennial plant that grows up to 60 cm tall and produces showy blue-violet flowers from July to September.

The Marsh Gentian's leaves are dark green and shiny, and its stems are slender and upright. The flowers of this plant are trumpet-shaped and range in color from blue-violet to purple. The blooms are about 3-5 cm in diameter and have five petals. Marsh Gentian's flowers are pollinated by bees, butterflies, and other insects. The plant's roots are fibrous and help it to anchor itself in wet soil.

Marsh Gentian has a long history of medicinal use. It was traditionally used to treat lung diseases, hence its Latin name, "pneumonanthe," which means "lung flower." The plant was also used to treat stomach and liver problems, fever, and wounds. Today, Marsh Gentian is still used in some herbal remedies and is believed to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

In addition to its medicinal uses, Marsh Gentian is a popular ornamental plant in gardens and has won the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit. It thrives in moist, acidic soils and prefers full sun or partial shade. Marsh Gentian is a perfect choice for bog gardens or wet meadows, where it can add a pop of color and interest.

Despite its popularity among gardeners, Marsh Gentian is facing some conservation concerns. The plant's natural habitats, such as wetlands and bogs, are rapidly disappearing due to human activity, and this has led to a decline in Marsh Gentian populations. Additionally, Marsh Gentian is vulnerable to herbicides and other chemicals, which can damage or kill the plant.

Marsh Gentian is not only important for its beauty and medicinal uses but also for its role in the ecosystem. The plant provides food and shelter for a variety of insects, including bees, butterflies, and moths. The seeds of the plant are also an important food source for small mammals and birds.

In addition to its ecological importance, Marsh Gentian has cultural significance in some regions where it grows. For example, in some parts of Europe, the plant is associated with folklore and is believed to have magical properties. It was sometimes used in love spells, and some people believed that carrying a piece of the plant could ward off evil spirits.

Efforts are underway to conserve Marsh Gentian and its habitats. Some organizations are working to restore wetlands and bogs, which can provide important habitats for the plant. Additionally, there are initiatives to raise awareness about the importance of Marsh Gentian and to encourage people to plant the species in their gardens.

One interesting fact about Marsh Gentian is that it is sometimes referred to as the "closed gentian" because its flowers remain closed in cloudy or overcast weather. The flowers only open fully in bright sunlight, which makes the plant especially attractive to pollinators like bees and butterflies that are active during the daytime.

Another interesting aspect of Marsh Gentian is its relationship with fungi. The plant forms symbiotic relationships with certain types of fungi, known as mycorrhizal fungi, which help the plant absorb nutrients from the soil. In exchange, the fungi receive carbohydrates from the plant. This mutualistic relationship is essential for the growth and survival of Marsh Gentian and many other plants.

Marsh Gentian is also a popular subject for botanical art and illustration. The plant's striking blue-violet flowers and shiny leaves make it a beautiful and challenging subject for artists to capture. Many botanical illustrators and painters have depicted Marsh Gentian over the years, and the plant continues to inspire artists today.

Marsh Gentian is not only an important plant species but also serves as an indicator of ecosystem health. Because the plant is highly sensitive to changes in its habitat, its presence or absence can provide valuable information about the condition of wetlands and bogs. Monitoring Marsh Gentian populations can help researchers and conservationists identify areas that need attention and restoration efforts.

Another interesting aspect of Marsh Gentian is its role in traditional medicine in some cultures. For example, in traditional Chinese medicine, the roots of Gentiana pneumonanthe are used to treat digestive problems, fever, and liver ailments. The plant has also been used in European folk medicine to treat lung diseases and other respiratory problems.

Marsh Gentian has been the subject of scientific research as well. Researchers have investigated the chemical compounds found in the plant and their potential medicinal properties. Some studies have suggested that Marsh Gentian may have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-tumor properties. However, more research is needed to fully understand the plant's potential medical uses and benefits.

Overall, Marsh Gentian is a remarkable plant with a rich history and many fascinating aspects. Its beauty, cultural significance, ecological importance, and medicinal properties make it a valuable and intriguing species. Protecting and conserving Marsh Gentian and its habitats is crucial for ensuring that this plant continues to thrive and contribute to our world.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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