This beautiful gentian was first discovered in New York in 1833 in the Niagara Falls area and is still only known from there and a second location along the St. Lawrence River.
There are seven existing populations in two areas of the state. Only two populations have more than 100 plants and two are very small with fewer than ten plants. Threre are three other historical occurrences that are considered extirpated by development.
The existing populations seem stable although they occur in fragile environments.
Originally there were ten populations known but now there are seven.
Some cliff populations are threatened by rock removal, erosion of the cliff faces and trampling by adventure-seeking tourists. Riverside and cliff top populations are threatened by a succession of shrubs and trees, trampling by fishermen, and invasion by exotic species like purple loosestrife and Phragmites.
Invasive species need to be suppressed around existing populations. Populations should be evaluated before any rock removal is attempted. Open areas should be kept free of tree and shrub succession.
Research is needed to see if populations can be augmented by propagation.
In New York Gentianopsis virgata is known from a variety generally moist, limey, rocky habitats. These include calcareous cliffs and ledges as well as seeps in limestone gorges, talus slopes, and rocky flats (New York Natural Heritage Program 2013). A calciphile of sandy, gravelly, rocky, and marly shores, wet meadows, crevices in limestone (or dolomite) pavements; interdunal hollows and calcareous flats along the Great Lakes (Voss 1996). Bogs, meadows, and wet shores, especially in calcareous regions (Gleason and Cronquist 1991). Boggy prairies, sandy swamps, borders of sloughs, wet calcareous rocks, etc. (Fernald 1950).
Lesser fringed gentian occurs along the St. Lawrence and Niagara Rivers, and there is an additional historical record just south of Rochester.
This plant ranges from New York and Quebec in the east, west through southern Ontario and Manitoba, and south from the Dakotas through the midwest to Pennsylvania.
Gentianopsis virgata is an annual to biennial herbaceous plant with stems growing up to 50 cm tall, often branching near the top. The leaves are opposite in 8 to 13 pairs located below the primary flowering stalk (peduncle). The middle and upper stem leaves are linear or very narrowly lanceolate, 2 to 12 mm wide and 6 to 21 times as long with a sharply pointed tip. The flowers are strikingly rich blue to purple in color, and are 4-parted, funnel-shaped and 38 to 51 mm across and borne singly on slender stalks at the end of the main stem and in the upper leaf axils, with 1 to 6 flowers per plant. The petals are typically irregularly toothed (erose) across the top and fringed along their sides. The sepals are 1.5 to 4.5 cm long, tapering to a point (acuminate), and have keels completely covered with rough small, rounded projections (Fernald 1950).
Gentianopsis virgata is an annual to biennial herbaceous plant with stems growing up to 50 cm tall and often branching near the top. The leaves are opposite in 8 to 13 pairs located below the primary flowering stalk (peduncle). The middle and upper stem leaves are linear or very narrowly lanceolate, 2 to 12 mm wide and 6 to 21 times as long with a sharply pointed tip. The flowers are 4-parted, funnel-shaped and 38 to 51 mm across and borne singly on slender stalks (peduncle) at the end of the main stem and from the upper leaf axils with 1 to 6 flowers per plant. The calyx is 1.5 to 4.5 cm long, tapering to a point (acuminate) and with keels completely covered with rough small, rounded projections. The longer calyx lobes are linear-lanceolate and 1 to 3 cm long the shorter are broader with membranous margins. The flower petal (corolla) lobes are a strikingly rich blue to purple color, typically irregularly toothed (erose) across the top with fringe along their sides, and are spreading-ascending after they open. (Fernald 1950)
For positive identification of lLsser Fringed Gentian, the entire plant including stem, leaves and mature flowers is needed.
Gentianopsis as a genus can be distinguished from other Gentians by its unfolded, fringed corollas.There are only two species of Gentianopsis in New York. Gentianopsis virgata is very similar in appearance to Gentianopsis crinita and it is often very difficult to distinguish the two species from one another. Voss (1996) reports that the "floral differences between G. virgata and G. crinita do not hold up, although there is a tendency for the cilia (fringe) at the end of the corolla lobes in G. procera to be reduced to little more than irregular teeth." Generally, G. crinita has wider leaves that are less than 4 times as long as broad or over 1 cm wide (usually both) and with a pronounced fringe across both the summit as well as the sides of the corolla lobes. More robust plants of G. virgata may have somewhat wider leaves than described in the literature, but these are also proportionally larger so that the length is 6-21 times the width, which is less than 1 cm at the widest point. (Michigan Flora Online 2011)
Gentianopsis vrigata typically flowers beginning in mid-August and continuing into mid-October with mature fruits present from late September to mid-November.
The time of year you would expect to find Lesser Fringed Gentian flowering and fruiting in New York.
Lesser Fringed Gentian
Gentianopsis virgata (Raf.) Holub
Fernald, M.L. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. 8th edition. D. Van Nostrand, New York. 1632 pp.
Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 910 pp.
Holmgren, Noel. 1998. The Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.
MICHIGAN FLORA ONLINE. A. A. Reznicek, E. G. Voss, & B. S. Walters. February 2011. University of Michigan. Web. Accessed March 8, 2013. http://www.michiganflora.net/
Mitchell, Richard S. and Gordon C. Tucker. 1997. Revised Checklist of New York State Plants. Contributions to a Flora of New York State. Checklist IV. Bulletin No. 490. New York State Museum. Albany, NY. 400 pp.
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2021. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.
Voss, E.G. 1996. Michigan Flora. Part III. Dicots (Pyrolaceae-Compositae). Cranbrook Institute of Science Bulletin 61 and Univ. Michigan Herbarium. Ann Arbor, Michigan. 622 pp.
Weldy, T. and D. Werier. 2010. New York flora atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research http://www.fccdr.usf.edu/. University of South Florida http://www.usf.edu/]. New York Flora Association http://newyork.plantatlas.usf.edu/, Albany, New York
This guide was authored by: Stephen M. Young, Elizabeth Spencer, Richard M. Ring.
Information for this guide was last updated on: April 2, 2013
Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2021. Online Conservation Guide for Gentianopsis virgata. Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/lesser-fringed-gentian/. Accessed October 23, 2021.