Chiltern gentian

Gentianella germanica

  1. Wildlife
  2. Wildflowers
  3. Chiltern gentian

About

This annual or biennial flower is only found in the UK. It is largely confined to the Chilterns, in fact it is the county flower of Buckinghamshire. It is found on lowland chalk grassland where vegetation is short, particularly where the soil has been disturbed. Occasionally they may be found growing at woodland edges if the soil is right. The species is declining in distribution due to loss of chalk grasslands.

How to identify

Said, by some, to be the prettiest of the gentians it has bright purple flowers with fine white hairs. The flowers may also be pink or whitish. The leaves are long and thin and grow directly from the stem with no individual stalks.

Where to find it

Chalk grassland mostly in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire

Habitats

When to find it

  • August
  • September

How can people help

Chiltern gentian prefer chalk downland habitats - patchworks of chalk grassland, heath, scrub and ponds found on chalk hills. Areas of rare and unique wildlife, chalk grasslands, in particular, have been likened to a rainforest for the diversity of species they hold. But they are being lost at an alarming rate due to changes in land use causing the decline of grazing: it's estimated that we've lost 80% of our chalk grassland over the last 60 years. The Wildlife Trusts manage many grassland and downland nature reserves for the benefit of the rare wildlife they hold. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from scrub-cutting to stockwatching.

Species information

Common name
Chiltern gentian
Latin name
Gentianella germanica
Category
Wildflowers
Statistics
Stem up to 50cm tall, petals 25-30mm long
Conservation status
Nationally scarce and vulnerable