Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Gentianales - Family: Gentianaceae
Growing to a height of 10 to 30cm, the individual plants of Marsh Gentian Gentiana pneumonanthe each have usually one or just a few flowers. The erect tubular five-petalled flowers, 25 to 50mm long, flare only slightly at the margins; they are sky blue with white and grey spots, most evident on the inside surfaces. The spots readily distinguish Marsh Gentians from any other gentian species found in Britain. Its lanceolate grey-green leaves, 15 to 40mm long, are in opposite pairs up the red-tinged stems and are covered in short grey hairs.
Found in only a few locations in Britain, mainly Dorset, Hampshire and Sussex, this lovely but now rare wildflower has suffered serious decline. It has not been recorded in Ireland or in Scotland. The New Forest, with its grazed acidic wet heathland, remains a stronghold for Marsh Gentians.
Despite its common name, the Marsh Gentian is a rare wildflower of wet heathland and acidic bogs. Plants can be hard to spot because often they grow in the shelter of Cross-leaved Heath.
In Britain, Marsh Gentians can be seen in flower during August and September.
This page includes pictures kindly contributed by Betty and Tony Rackham.