> A Little Blue Gem : the Marsh Gentian

This morning, just for a change, it was drizzling. The sky was leaden grey and the garden was bending under the weight of resting water. Not a good day for a hunt then? Pah! You try stopping me.

Marsh Gentian Gentiana pneumonanthe

I’m more used to hunting for mammals but today I was on the hunt for a very rare and very beautiful plant; the Marsh Gentian Gentiana pneumonanthe.

Stuart Roberts (of the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society) had asked me the other day whether I knew of any Marsh Gentian on the Heath. I didn’t know. I thought about it a few days later and wondered why Stuart had asked, was there a particular bee or wasp that visited the Marsh Gentian? Suddenly I was on a mission!

Bog Asphodels Carpeted the Marsh : Their Seed Heads Swaying in the Breeze

I asked everyone I could think of and in the end two of the Heath reserve wardens at Dorset Wildlife Trust answered my question. Yes, there was Marsh Gentian growing on the Heath and yes, they could tell me where (but I was sworn to secrecy!).

Today was to be the day. OK, it was raining and overcast but it was a Sunday and “going for a walk in the rain” was becoming a bit of a habit. I arrived at the secret location and was immediately stumped. All I could see was purple heather. Very pretty but not really what I’d come to see. I stood there looking around me like some lost toddler in Woolworths.

One of the Marsh Gentian plants

“You lost?” came a voice. A smiling woman and dog (the woman was smiling not the dog) were heading towards me looking concerned. “No, I’m looking for a plant” I said. Now in the normal world that would sound a little strange but when you live in a place where people love nature it doesn’t sound so odd. “A Marsh Gentian” I continued.

“Well I haven’t seen them myself” she said “but if they’re going to be anywhere I expect they’ll be with the Bog Asphodel. Follow that path by the pond, go round the back of the hill and the marshy bit with the Asphodel will be in front of you”. I headed off with renewed enthusiasm.

Marsh Gentian; the Third Plant

As I came round the corner of the hill the orange seedheads of Bog Asphodel were swaying in the breeze in front of me. I kept going, looking for the pure blue flowers of the Gentians. Suddenly I saw one, then another, then another. Not in full bloom but unmistakably Marsh Gentians. Found ya!

Now isn’t that a flying insect climbing up the bloom of that first Gentian picture? “Stuart…..!!”

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12 thoughts on “> A Little Blue Gem : the Marsh Gentian

  1. What a beautiful way to start a Monday! I can’t be sure, but I may have seen some Marsh Gentian back when we lived on “the island”. Most of Donegal is bogland (where it isn’t rock) and in those days we even had Bog Asphodel in a corner of our garden. Well done for finding the elusive plant in a much more populous part of the world.

  2. They are beautiful Paula. Really stood out against the marsh grass and heather – a really vivid colour (not often seen it in a flower). Not sure if you get them in Devon/Cornwall I will have to look it up.

  3. Glad you liked them Dragonstar. I’ve looked up Marsh Gentian and Donegal but couldn’t find anything… that doesn’t mean it isn’t there though… I expect you miss your Island at times, it must have been beautiful. Jane x

  4. Wow! My monitor looked like a christmas tree when this page came up – with the red of the poppy, the blue of the gentian, against the black background. Really striking effect. You really do keep yourself busy Jane – always on the lookout for yet another target species, and always coming up trumps! Great stuff.

  5. Hi Steve. Yes, I know what you mean, the colour is great. If this rain stops I will go back and look for some more. Pretty striking flowers. Hope your cold gets better soon and that the Long Eared Bats return! Jane

  6. Some lovely photos as ever Jane.

    Im heading to Ashurst in The New Forest on Friday and since its kind of your neck of the woods have you got any recommendations on where to go?

  7. Hi Neil. I’m afraid I don’t know the Ashurst area very well at all. It’s 30 miles away from here and could be on another planet… us yokels don’t get out much, especially over to Hampshire! Sorry I can’t be more help, I’m sure other WAB’ers would have some good ideas.

  8. Pingback: Dear Kitty. Some blog :: Dabchicks and fly agaric :: September :: 2008

  9. Pingback: Dabchicks and fly agaric | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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