Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Showy or Appalachian Gentian (Gentiana decora)

September 1st, 2012. It was the Labor Day (US) holiday weekend so we took the opportunity to make an overnight trip into the Chattahoochee National Forest. After leaving Dockery Lake, we drove further up GA-60 to the Coopers Creek Wildlife Management AreaCavender Gap Road headed up to a ridge and made its way along the ridge before dropping back down to Cooper Creek and followed it back to GA-60.

It was getting late when we drove down off the ridge and weren’t really taking as much notice as usual in the fading light. But then we spotted some gentian plants on an embankment beside the road. There were probably a dozen plants, each about 18 to 24 inches tall.

The plants were close to the road

A closer view of the top of a plsnt

Flowers lower on the plant

Flowers at the tip of the plant

Buds on another stem

An open flower. This isn’t the best photo since the light was low but we take what we can get.

Not being that familiar with gentians, I thought this was Gentiana villosa, the Striped Gentian but as I researched it further, I came to the conclusion that this was Gentiana decora, the Showy or Appalachian Gentian.
Gentian decora (Showy Gentian, Appalachian Gentian, Striped Gentian) is native to the United States where it had been documented in southeastern states: Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North and South Carolina and Georgia. In Georgia, it’s been documented only in a few counties in North Georgia including Union County.
Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources:
Southeastern Flora: Gentiana decora (Showy Gentian)
Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Gentiana decora (Appalachian Gentian, Showy Gentian)
Alan Cressler: Gentiana decora
Jim Petranka: Gentiana decora (Appalachian Gentian)

United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database:
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