Gentianella tortuosa
Author: (M.E. Jones) J. Gillett


Cathedral Bluff dwarf gentian


Gentianaceae (Gentian Family)

Close up of Gentianella tortuosa by Rusty Roberts.
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Close up of Gentianella tortuosa by Jessica Smith.
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Ranks and Status

Global rank: G3?
State rank: S1
Federal protection status: BLM Sensitive
State protection status: None

[+] Description and Phenology

Please see 1997 profile.

General description: Clump-forming annual to 10 cm tall. Stems much branched and spreading to erect. Basal leaves elliptic to spatulate 5 to 20 mm long and 2 to 5 mm wide. Cauline leaves elliptic, oblong, or lanceolate; to 35 mm long. Funnel-form to campanulate flowers are solitary in the leaf axils or on short axillary branches. Corolla yellowish white or blue 7 to 16 mm long; the corolla lobes as long as the tube and with a single row of hairs forming a fringe inside. Capsules contain 6 or fewer seeds. Flowers nearly buried in the leaves (Welsh et al. 2003).

Look Alikes: This species is unlike any other Colorado gentian (Spackman et al. 1997).

Phenology: Flowers form in July and August; capsules form in August and September (Colorado Natural Heritage Program 2012).

[+] Habitat

Habitat of Gentianella tortuosa by Jessica Smith.
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Habitat of Gentianella tortuosa by Jessica Smith.
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Habitat of Gentianella tortuosa by Janis Huggins.
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Green River Formation; barren shale knolls and slopes (Spackman et al. 1997, Ackerfield 2015). Associated taxa include: GaillardiaCryptantha stricta, Linum lewissii, CirsiumPseudoroegneria spicata, Astragalus spathulatus, Oryzopsis hymenoides, Mentzelia multicaulisAletes anisatus and Astragalus lutosus.

Elevation Range: 7,785 - 8,596 feet (2,373 - 2,620 meters)

[+] Distribution

Distribution of Gentianella tortuosa in Colorado according to mapped land ownership/management boundaries (CNHP 2015, COMaP v9).
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Distribution of Gentianella tortuosa in Colorado.
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Colorado endemic: No
Global range: This species is found in Rio Blanco County, Colorado, central and southwest Utah, and southern Nevada (Cronquist et al. 1984; USDA NRCS 2015).
State range: Only known from Rio Blanco County in Colorado.  Also found in Utah and Nevada.

[+] Threats and Management Issues

The Green River Formation habitat is threatened by oil and gas development throughout its range. One Colorado occurrence is close to a road and could suffer impacts from road maintenance.

[+] References

    • Ackerfield, J. 2015. Flora of Colorado. Brit Press, Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Fort Worth, TX. 818 pp.
    • Cronquist, A., A.H. Holmgren, N.H. Holmgren, J.L. Reveal, and P.K. Holmgren. 1984. Intermountain Flora: Vascular Plants of the Intermountain West, U.S.A. Vol. 4, Subclass Asteridae (except Asteraceae). New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. 573 pp.
    • Gillett, J. M. 1957. A revision of the North American species of Gentianella Moench. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 44(3):195-269.
    • Gillett, J.M. 1957. A revision of the North American Species of Gentianella. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden Vol. 44:195-249.
    • Goodrich, S. and E. Neese. 1986. Uinta Basin Flora. U.S.D.A. Forest Service, Ogden, UT.
    • Goodrich, S., and E. Neese. 1986. Uinta Basin flora. U.S. Forest Service, Intermountain Region, Ogden, Utah. 320 pp.
    • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
    • Peterson, J.S. and W.L. Baker. 1983. Inventory of the Piceance Basin, Colorado: Threatened and endangered plants, plant associations, and the general flora. Journal of the Colorado-Wyoming Academy of Science 15(1):42-43 (Abstract).
    • Spackman, S., B. Jennings, J. Coles, C. Dawson, M. Minton, A. Kratz, and C. Spurrier. 1997. Colorado rare plant field guide. Prepared for Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by Colorado Natural Heritage Program.
    • USDA, NRCS. 2015. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.
    • Weber, W. A. and R. C. Wittmann. 2012. Colorado Flora, Western Slope, A Field Guide to the Vascular Plants, Fourth Edition. Boulder, Colorado. 532 pp.
    • Weber, W.A., and R.C. Wittmann. 1996a. Colorado flora: Eastern slope. Revised edition. Univ. Press of Colorado, Niwot, Colorado. 524 pp.
    • Welsh, S.L., N.D. Atwood, S. Goodrich and L.C. Higgins. (Eds.) 2003. A Utah Flora. 3rd edition. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, U.S.A. 912 pp.

Last Updated

2015-07-28