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Montana Field Guides

Explorer's Gentian - Gentiana calycosa

Native Species

Global Rank: G4
State Rank: S4
C-value: 7

Agency Status


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General Description
Glabrous perennial from a branched caudex. Stems ascending, simple, 10–30 cm. Leaves cauline, ovate, 1–3 cm long; the lowest smaller. Inflorescence a solitary, terminal flower. Flowers 5-merous, funnelform to campanulate; calyx 12–22 mm long, the lobes rounded; corolla deep blue, 32–44 mm long, plicate with fringed plaits between erect to spreading lobes. Capsule 15–25 mm long (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Our plants have been called variety obtusiloba C.L. Hitchc.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
BC, AB south to CA, NV, AZ and WY (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 355

(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 to wet soil of meadows, cliffs, open forest, often where snow lies late; subalpine, alpine (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

The following animal species have been reported as pollinators of this plant species or its genus where their geographic ranges overlap: Bombus appositus, Bombus fervidus, Bombus flavifrons, Bombus sylvicola, Bombus pensylvanicus, and Bombus kirbiellus (Colla and Dumesh 2010, Pyke et al. 2012, Williams et al. 2014, Ogilvie and Thomson 2015).

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Colla, S.R. and S. Dumesh. 2010. The bumble bees of southern Ontario: notes on natural history and distribution. Journal of the Entomological Society of Ontario 141:39-68.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
    • Ogilvie, J.E. and J.D. Thomson. 2015. Male bumble bees are important pollinators of a late-blooming plant. Arthropod-Plant Interactions 9:205-213.
    • Pyke, G.H., D.W. Inouye, and J.D. Thomson. 2012. Local geographic distributions of bumble bees near Crested Butte, Colorado: competition and community structure revisited. Environmental Entomology 41(6): 1332-1349.
    • Williams, P., R. Thorp, L. Richardson, and S. Colla. 2014. Bumble Bees of North America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 208 p.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Fultz, J.E. 2005. Effects of shelterwood management on flower-visiting insects and their floral resources. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 163 p.
    • Jones, W. W. 1901. Preliminary flora of Gallatin County. M.S. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State College. 78 pp.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2022. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants, Second Edition. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 779 p.
    • Wachter, D.H. 1995. The ecology of selected grasshopper species along an elevational gradient. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, Montana: Montana State University. 59 p.
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Citation for data on this website:
Explorer's Gentian — Gentiana calycosa.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from