Gentianella anglica - Early Gentian

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Gentianales - Family: Gentianaceae

Gentianella anglica, Early Gentian in flower

This rare annual wildflower is endemic to Britain, where it occurs only in a few scattered locations mainly in southern England.

Some authorities treat this as a subspecies of the much later flowering Gentianella amarella, known as Felwort or Autumn Gentian, and so they refer to it by the scientific name Gentianella amarella subsp. anglica.


Growing to a height of 15cm, Early Gentian is a biennial plant with a basal rosette of lanceolate or narrowly oval leaves and a few paired unstalked stem leaves. Its bluish-purple trumpet-shaped flowers are typically 20mm long, with four or five pointed petals. There is a fringe of pale hairs at the throat of the corolla.


Found in southern Britain, mainly in Cornwall, Dorset, Wiltshire and the Isle of Wight but also, enigmatically, at Stackpole in Pembrokeshire, on the south-west coast of Wales, Early Gentian used to be more widely distributed. This species has never been recorded in Ireland or Scotland and it is not found on mainland Europe.


Early Gentian is a wildflower of dryish short-sward calcareous grassland, most often on fairly steep south-facing slopes.

Flowering time

Early Gentians can be seen in flower during May and June.


This page includes pictures kindly contributed by Betty and Tony Rackham.

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