Spring Gentian

Common name:
Spring Gentian
Gentiana verna
Ceadharlach Bealtaine
Flowering period:
April to June/July, peaking in May
Heathy grasslands, rocky pastures, limestone pavement and sand dunes
Conservation Status:
Spring gentian is classed as NEAR THREATENED in the Red Data list of Vascular Plants 2016.

Intense blue flowers of the Spring Gentian, electrifying the Burren landscape this Spring.  This Arctic-alpine species is regarded by many as the jewel in the flora of the Burren. The Burren is the stronghold for this species in Ireland.

GenBrief description

Intense blue star shaped  flowers each with a cylindrical tube and spreading petals, a paler upright fringe sits at the base of the petals. Oval shaped leaves form a rosette at the base and stalkless pairs clasp the stem from where the flower emerges.

 Noteworthy characteristics

The iconic Spring Gentian is the jewel in the Burren flora, the sight of its startling blue  flowers fully opened in bright sunlight against the grey limestone is remarkable
The Spring Gentian has its stronghold in the Burren in Ireland, it also occurs on the Aran Islands, outside of Ireland it is a species of Arctic-Alpine distribution, generally confined to the tundra of northern Scandinavia and in the higher reaches of the southerly European mountain ranges

Uses and other snipits

Although no ethnobotanical uses have been recorded for Spring gentian in Ireland (Wyse-Jackson, 2014) other species of the gentian family are used as digestive tonics and as bitters to stimulating the appetite

 Personal note

With its astonishingly blue colour, Spring Gentian never fails to delight  when it first appears on  the Burren landscape as early as March each year

Pale variations of Spring Gentian have been recorded  in the Burren and last year 2021, 2022 and  again in 2023.  It is always fabulous  to find these beautiful lilac coloured flowers. Last  April (2022) I came upon a beautiful almost white variety, at first glance it appears pure white but on closer investigation reveals  the corrolla has a slight touch of  mauve.

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