Stems: slender, simple. Leaves: linear. Flowers: solitary at the ends of elongated erect peduncles; calyx-lobes lanceolate, acuminate, their mid-ribs decurrent on the tube; corolla narrowly-campanulate, its lobes spatulate-oblong, fringed on both sides, and almost toothed around the apex.
A lovely deep blue Gentian, found in moist places, but not very common. When the days begin to shorten and the earth is flooded with the final glory of those scarlets and yellows that precede and presage decay, then like a beautiful benediction the Gentians, "coloured with Heaven's own blue," are spread abroad, opening their petals to the sunshine at midday and closing them again suddenly at the first touch of the chill winds that blow off the ice-fields.
In the early fall of the year, "Then doth thy sweet and quiet eye Look through its fringes to the sky, Blue, blue, as if that sky let fall A flower from its cerulean wall."
There lies at all times a curious silvery tinge upon the exterior of the four large fringed lobes of the corolla, which are delicately and darkly veined. The two outer calyx-lobes are longer and narrower than the two inner ones, and the buds are very long and pointed. Whenever you try to pick one of these Gentians, you will find that the whole plant comes up out of the ground at the slightest pull. They are extremely elusive flowers, seldom reappearing in the same place for two consecutive years, since, being annuals, and therefore perpetuated by seed alone, their reappearance the following season depends altogether upon the direction of the wind which blows the little hairy scales hither and thither, and by good fortune deposits a few where the moist earth enables them to germinate.
Gentiana Amarella var. acuta, or Northern Gentian, may readily be distinguished by the fringed crown set within the throat of the corolla-tube. The flowers are quite numerous, growing in clusters on short stiff stalks that spring out of the main stem; they are usually pinkish-purple, but sometimes white. The traveller should specially note that the corolla is divided into five lobes at the top, and that the tiny roots grow close to the surface of the soil and are very easily pulled up.