14. THE GENTIAN FAMILY
Gentiana is the most important genus in the Gentianaceae family.
Gentiana is the most important genus in the Gentianaceae family. This family consists of just above 300 species, mostly from mountains of the Northern Hemisphere. Our collection included 84 of these in 2012. The purple Gentian (G. purpurea) forms together with the great yellow gentian (G. lutea) a section of reddish to yellow-flowered tall perennials. However, the best known garden plants are those with intensely blue, large, bell-shaped flowers, such as the sections Ciminalis and Kudoa. Species of the former flower during spring, those of the latter in the autumn, in Tromsø even into November! The Frigidae section is very hardy, often with pale yellow flowers. Two species reach the Arctic and another one altitudes of 6200 m in China.
Our tiny and intensely blue snow gentian (G. nivalis) is annual, although its section Calathianae also includes the perennial spring gentian (G. verna) from Central Europe. Most other Norwegian species are biannual and have been transferred to neighbouring genera.
Species of Swertia on the northern side of the hill have star-shaped flowers with more diffuse colours, and their large nectaries attract lot of insects.