Field Gentian - Gentianella campestris - Western Isles Purple Wildflowers

Field Gentians - Western Isles Wildflowers

Field Gentian - Purple Wildflowers
Purple wildflowers - Western Isles - Hebrides Flowers - This lovely plant usually the flowers are purple - flowers from August until the Autumn - This lovely plant usually the flowers are purple - flowers from August until the Autumn.

!80 Different Gentian Species
There are actually 180 different species of gentians.

Autumn Gentian Also Seen Here

The Autumn gentian does occasionally show its face in a couple of sites on The Isle of Lewis - more usually its the Field Gentian that you will see.


Field Gentians - Compact Purple Flowers
This plant has lovely purple compact flowers. Field Gentiana bloom here on The Isle of Lewis from July until the autumn.

The flowers are usually violet - however occasionally they are white or yellowish white flowers.

Field gentians declined heavily before 1930's and even today sites are still being lost, so it is nice to see them showing their faces here in The Western Isles. I have seen the field gentians in several different areas of the Islands, from Flodobay in Harris, along the Old Coffin Road, Seilabost, Harris, whilst I have seen others in Bosta, Ghioridail or Tolsta Head, The Isle of Lewis.

Four Petals
The flowers always have four petals and sepals. The flowers only open totally when there is bright sunlight.

The flowers are usually a bluish-purple - violet colour - occasionally they can be pale or white or yellowy. The fruit is a capsule.

This plant likes damp grassland or dunes and thrives particularly near the sea. The roots are small, but penetrate some distance into the soil

The Field Gentian is usually a biennial - although occasionally an annual.

The Field Gentian is protected by law

Smallish Plant - 8 inches in height
Field Gentians are a smallish plant, their size only reaching to around 8inches in height, They have erect stems, can be branched at the base. The leaves are opposite, ovate and unstalked. Flowers are usually lilac, but may be white or pink, with petals and sepals fused.

At a closer look there are two large sepals overlapping two small ones. This flower is reluctant to open except in bright sunlight. The field gentian is usually found in small isolated groups, however I have noted that especially at Ghioridail - Tolsta Head, up on the cliff top moorland there are actually great swathes of them, flowering in and amongst the orchids and the beautiful machair.

Name Gentian Derived From a King

The name - gentian is derived from Gentius, an ancient King of Illyria (180-167 B.C.), who, according to Pliny and Dioscorides, discovered many medicinal uses for the plant.

Purple Field Gentians - Wildflowers
Click pictures below for larger photographs


Antidote to Poison

One of the medicinal uses was that it was used as an antidote to poison

Alcoholic Drink
Fresh Gentian root is used in Germany and Switzerland in the production of an alcoholic beverage.

The roots are cut, macerated with water, fermented and distilled. The resulting liquid gives it a characteristic odour and taste


Field Gentians  Hebrides Flowers
Field Gentian Flower OPening up in the sun
Preferring the neutral or acid soils of alpine meadows, forest clearings and pastures, the field gentian is usually found at an altitude of 3,300 to 7,500 feet above sea level.

Causes of decline - Intensive Farming - Maybe Rabbits

Field Gentian has suffered through changed management of grasslands and more intensive farming methods, the application of fertilizers and herbicides. The decline in grazing by rabbits may be a factor in the species’ decline. Here certainly on The Isle of Lewis, rabbits are really prevalent

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