Fringed gentian (Gentianopsis crinita) is found in areas that maintain low-growing, open vegetation such as abandoned farm fields or riverbank meadows, especially where the soil is moist from upwelling groundwater.
Why it is Rare
- As a biennial plant, it stays very close to the ground its first year, and can be easily shaded out by larger, faster-growing plants. It must produce abundant seeds most years for the population to remain viable.
- Many grow in abandoned farm fields, which over time grow thicker, taller vegetation that provides too much shade for the gentians.
- The conditions they require to grow are not common.
- Deer eat the flowers and fruits, inhibiting reproduction.
What we are doing to protect the fringed gentian
- We collect seeds from wild populations and spread them to create new populations or add to existing populations.
- We cleared away forest and shrub vegetation to create low, open vegetation, the gentian’s preferred habitat.
- We place fences around some of the plants to protect them from deer.
- Volunteers under Botanic Gardens direction have conducted annual censuses for over 10 years to track population changes.
The population sizes vary significantly from year to year in response to precipitation, management practices and deer.