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FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 14 | Gentianaceae | Gentiana

12. Gentiana sceptrum Grisebach in W. J. Hooker, Fl. Bor.-Amer. 2: 57, plate 145. 1837.

King’s-scepter or staff or Pacific gentian

Gentiana menziesii Grisebach; G. sceptrum var. cascadensis M. Peck; G. sceptrum var. humilis Engelmann ex A. Gray

Herbs perennial, 1–9 dm, gla­brous. Stems 1–4(–10), ter­minal from caudex, decumbent to erect. Leaves cauline, grad­ually more widely spaced dis­tally; blade lanceolate to ovate or elliptic, 1–9 cm × 5–15(–20) mm, apex obtuse to acute. Inflorescences solitary flowers or 2–5-flowered heads or umbellate cymes, often also on peduncles to 8 cm or in cymules on branches from distal 1–4(–7) nodes. Flowers: calyx 13–27 mm, tube rarely deeply cleft, lobes lanceolate to elliptic-ovate or rarely foliaceous, 6–15 mm, margins not ciliate; corolla blue or rarely rose-violet or white, narrowly campanulate, opening only slightly with lobes ascending to incurved, 25–50 mm, lobes oblong-ovate to orbiculate, 5–10 mm, summit of plicae forming ± trun­cate, entire sinus, not or scarcely extending beyond bases of lobes; anthers distinct. Seeds winged toward ends only. 2n = 26.

Flowering summer–fall. Bogs, wet meadows; 0–1300 m; B.C.; Calif., Oreg., Wash.

Plants of Gentiana sceptrum with ascending, narrowly lanceolate leaves conspicuously exceeded by the distal internodes have been called G. menziesii. Plants with spreading, elliptic to ovate, more closely spaced leaves have been called G. sceptrum var. cascadensis, although that variant might more appropriately be con­sidered nomenclaturally typical. Studies for this flora have indi­cated that the extremes are connected by many inter­mediates, and that little correlation exists between leaf shape and geographic distribution, or between leaf shape and the other traits by which the segregates have been characterized, such as stature, erectness of stems, or numbers and sizes of flowers. Even within a relatively limited area, such as Vancouver Island, British Columbia, or Humboldt County, California, plants can be found with leaves ranging from narrowly lanceolate to widely elliptic.

Small plants with strongly decumbent stems, found at a few localities at or near the coast in California and southern Oregon, have been called Gentiana sceptrum var. humilis. Spathaceous calyces occasionally occur in these plants. Such plants are not recognized taxonom­ically here because larger plants approaching typical G. sceptrum have been found at the same localities or nearby, but they should be given further study.


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