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Early gentian

Scientific name: Gentianella anglica
The Early gentian is a rare plant that is only found in the UK. It likes sunny, lowland chalk grasslands, its purple, trumpet-shaped flowers blooming in May and June.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 20cm

Conservation status

Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework. European Protected Species under Annex IV of the European Habitats Directive.

When to see

May to June

About

Early gentian is a small, rare annual or biennial wildflower. It grows on chalk grassland, favouring south-facing slopes with thin soil that are grazed to keep the vegetation cover low. Its purple, trumpet-shaped flowers appear in branching clusters from May to June, much earlier than its relative, the Autumn gentian. Its seeds can remain in the ground for several years before growing, so colonies may only appear every few years.

How to identify

The Early gentian displays purple, four- or five-petalled, trumpet-shaped flowers that have fine white stamens inside them. It has long, narrow, green leaves that are unstalked, growing directly from the stem.

Distribution

Found in Central and Southern England.

Did you know?

The Early gentian is endemic to the UK, meaning it is only found here and nowhere else in the world.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many grassland habitats sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. Careful grazing with traditional breeds, hay-cutting at the right time and scrub clearance are just some of the ways grasslands are kept in good condition - supporting plants and invertebrates and, in turn, the larger animals that prey on them. By volunteering for your local Trust you can help too, and you'll make new friends and learn new skills along the way.