An extremely beautiful native plant, Autumn Gentian grows to about 25cm high. Mainly found on calcareous soil, by sand dunes, grassy meadows and in dry banks, it is occasionally found in the centre of Ireland and parts of the West. It bears mauve, purple or pink flowers (12-14mm across), usually 5-lobed (occasionally 4-lobed). Around the centre of the flower is a fringe of short, erect hairs. The calyx lobes are narrowly lanceolate and all are roughly equal in size – which differentiates it from Field Gentian which has quite unequal calyx lobes. The flowers are borne in branched clusters on thin, erect stems. The leaves are opposite, oval-lanceolate, untoothed with basal leaves in a rosette in the first year. An annual or biennial, it flowers from June to September and belongs to the Gentianaceae or Gentian family.
I first found this wildflower in Donegal in the late 1970’s and didn’t see it again until August 2013, when I was so excited and delighted to find it once more, this time near Bishop’s Quarter in the Burren, Co Clare when I photographed it.
If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre