It’s always with a mixture of sadness and anticipation that I say farewell to one season and welcome in the next. I guess it’s kind of human fickle nature how we eagerly look to a new season. Like a sponge, we soak up each quarters moments of comfort and pleasant offerings. But as the weeks linger on we sometimes brace ourselves; hoping we can endure the periods of mental and physical anguish that each period offers – until the next season is birthed. Then, as quickly as we once embraced this old and dying season, we cast it off and rush to greet the anticipated but unknown future. Will it be gentle and filled with passion and excitement or harsh, cruel and unforgiving? No matter. In 90 days, the season passed will slip through our fingers as we reach out to the temptations of another fresh yet anonymous season of life.
So it is in this edition, that I am featuring the final flowering species that I was allowed to enjoy prior to our first killing frost and the drawing nigh of summer. I almost missed this beauty as I was waiting for the beautiful blue “buds” of Gentiana andrewsii or the Bottle Gentian to bloom. Silly boy! Then I did a little research on this late season beauty and became even more amazed.
Gentiana andrewsii or Bottle Gentian or Closed Gentian is a native perennial that grows to 2′ in height and has blue, bluish violet to white flowers at the top of its stem. The plant prefers wet prairies or edges of woods where it flourishes in full sun to partial shade. Thus, this area along the Central Lakes Trail was a natural for the plant to thrive. Its August-September bottle-like flowers are nearly closed at the tips and typically are found as tight clusters atop the stem. Ironically, when in full bloom, the 1 to 1½ inch long flower looks like a bud about to open. The plant gets its common name from the fact that its petals never open but always look like large blue buds or “bottles”. Bumblebees are the primary pollinators of the hermaphrodite flowers (have both male and female organs), as they are one of the few insects that can force their way past the tightly closed outer cover or corolla. The Gentians are named after King Gentius of ancient Illyria, who is said to have discovered the medicinal value of these plants. The Bottle Gentian root is claimed to be an antidote to snake bites. An infusion of the roots has been used as a wash and also taken internally in the treatment of pain and headaches. Others report than an infusion of the roots has also been used as drops for sore eyes. No ill effects of the plant are known.
Well, that’s a lot of coverage for a single species. However, it seemed fitting that such a unique and beautiful blue flower would help us bid farewell to summer and welcome in the cool days of autumn. Yes, there are other photos of plants that I’ve yet to share and will get them mixed in during future posts. But for now, summer has come and gone. Fall is upon us and with it, new opportunities and sites to seek and capture abound. Just as August Rush said “The music is everywhere, you just have to listen”, so is the beauty around you, you just have to look. As always, I hope this short feature helped your day to be a better one. Pull the covers up a little tighter tonight; it’s getting chilly. Have a pleasant night.