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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Slender Gentian - Gentianella tenella
Other Names:  Gentiana tenella

Status Under Review
Native Species

Global Rank: G4G5
State Rank: SU

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:
C-value: 6

External Links

General Description
Slender Gentian is a small, glabrous, annual herb which stands 2-15 cm tall; Montana collections are on the small end of this range. The stems are 4-angled and may be branched; those of small plants are often unbranched. There are usually several spoon-shaped basal leaves which are 3-10 mm long, and few, if any, slightly larger, opposite stem leaves, which are 5-15 mm long. There are one to a few flowers per stem borne singly on long pedicels; stems of small plants are often reduced to single, flowered, leafless scapes. The flowers have 4 green sepals which are about half as long as the corolla. The white to bluish-purple corolla is 8-15 mm long and is tubular-shaped with 4 terminal lobes which are about one-third as long as the tube; the inner surface of each lobe has two fringed scales near its base. There are 4 stamens attached to the inside of the corolla tube and a single basal pistil.

Flowering in late July-August.

Diagnostic Characteristics
This species is distinguished from other Montana Gentianella by having flowers borne on long pedicels in an open inflorescence (in small plants, these are reduced to leafless scapes) with 4 distinct sepals and corolla lobes with fringed scales. Species of Gentiana differ by having corollas which are plicate.

Range Comments
Circumboreal, south in North America to Que., NM, and CA. Sparse.

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 1

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Moist tundra, boulder fields, or rock ledges near or in alpine zone.

  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
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    • Aho, Ken Andrew. 2006. Alpine and Cliff Ecosystems in the North-Central Rocky Mountains. Ph.D. Dissertation. Bozeman, Montana: Montana State University. 343 p.
    • Fertig, W. and M. Bynum. 1994. Biological report on the proposed Twin Lakes Research Natural Area. Unpublished report to the Shoshone National Forest. Wyoming Natural Diversity Database, Laramie, Wyoming. 33 pp. plus appendices.
    • Lesica, P. 1993. Vegetation and flora of the Line Creek Plateau area, Carbon County, Montana. Unpublished report to USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, Montana. 30 pp.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
    • Scott, R. W. 1966. The alpine flora of northwestern Wyoming. M.S. thesis. University of Wyoming, Laramie. 219 pp.
    • Simanonok, M. 2018. Plant-pollinator network assembly after wildfire. Ph.D. Dissertation. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 123 p.
    • Spira, T.P. 1984. Comparative demography of alpine biennial and perennial gentians (Gentiana spp.) in California. American Journal of Botany 71:90.
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Citation for data on this website:
Slender Gentian — Gentianella tenella.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from