Gentiana angustifolia
Common Name: gentian 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Gentianaceae
Native Range: France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Spread: 0.25 to 0.75 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Sky blue
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest


Easily grown in moist, gritty-gravelly, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Plants prefer cool summer conditions and often perform poorly south of USDA Zone 7. Best flowering typically occurs in full sun, but some part afternoon shade is needed in hot summer climates to help prevent the onset of leaf-bleaching. Thrives in limestone soils. Tolerates occasional brief periods of dry soil.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Gentiana angustifolia, commonly known as stemless gentian, short-stemmed gentian or trumpet gentian, is a much-loved, dwarf, mat-forming, blue-flowered, alpine perennial that typically grows to only 4” tall but slowly forms a spreading ground cover-like carpet to 6” wide or more. It is native to alpine grasslands, rocky meadows, screes and alpine/subalpine coniferous forests at altitudes up to 9700’ in the limestone Alps of western Europe.

Showy sky-blue flowers (each to 2 1/2” long) in the shape of upward-facing trumpets bloom singly in May-June. Flowers appear to sit directly on top of the basal foliage (flowers are stemless or very short-stemmed). Each flower has 5 blue sharp-pointed corolla lobes and a green-tinged throat with purple spotting. Dull green, elliptic to lanceolate, evergreen leaves (to 1” long) grow in small basal rosettes which over time spread to form a tufted carpet.

G. angustifolia is considered by many to be part of the Gentian Acaulis Group (stemless to short stemmed gentians which vary primarily in terms of leaf shape, flower shape and markings within the flower tube).

Genus name honors King Gentius of Illyria (reign c. 180-168) B.C., who was reputed to have discovered the medicinal virtues of the root of the yellow gentian or bitterwort (G. lutea) from which a tonic bitters is still made.

Specific epithet means narrow-leaved.


No serious insect or disease problems. Gentian can be a difficult plant to grow well in gardens in the St. Louis area in large part because of the hot and humid summer conditions.


Excellent rock garden plant. Alpine gardens. Border fronts. Sunny foundation areas.