Nov. 13, 2021

spurred gentian, Halenia deflexa

Spurred gentian flowers are only about a half inch long. They're often without purple coloring, and have a bit of a rep for being overlooked. Once you do get used to spotting them, you might start seeing them all over the northern woods. Kadereit and von Hagen did a very interesting study with Halenia to test the hypothesis that narrow pollination relationships such as the spurred syndrome enable more rapid evolution. They were able to trace this genus as it migrated from east Asia into North American, Central America and finally South America. They concluded that when plants move into a region where their syndrome is new and unique they have advantages and opportunities. This creates new opportunities for pollinators, and does result in more rapid development of new species. But only temporarily, then things slow down again to more ordinary rates. Our spurred gentian has an interesting combination of closed flower openings and spurs that together form a longer tube for long tongued pollinators. Spurred gentian grows mostly in forests in IL, MA, ME, MI, MN, MT, ND, NH, NY, SD, VT, WI, WY, AB, BC, LB, MB, NB, NF, NS, NT, ON, QC, SK, and on SPM. Chippewa Co MI, 7/16/21. Gentian family, Gentianaceae.