Annual or biennial herb 30 cm - 0.8 m tall Stem: single, hairless, usually branching in the inflorescence. Leaves: opposite, stalkless, non-toothed, 3 - 6 cm long, 1 - 2 cm wide, usually longer than wide, widest below the middle, with a broadly rounded base, and tapering tip. Flowers: bright blue, 3 - 5.5 cm long, radially symmetric, bell-shaped, or funnel-shaped with flared lobes. The numerous (up to 100) flowers are situated on long stalks at the top of stem, and also at the tips of some lateral branches. Sepals: four, but fused about half their length into a 2.5 - 4 cm long tube, then separating into long, pointed, smooth-surfaced lobes of unequal widths and lengths (two short and two tall). Petals: four, but fused for over half their length, then separating into spreading lobes with 2 - 5 mm long fringes along the tops and sides. The petal tube has nectar glands attached along the inside near the base. Stamens: four, attached to the inside of the petal tube, each alternating with a nectar gland. Pistil: with a distinctly stalked, single-chambered, superior ovary; a very short style; and two large stigmas. Fruit: a stalked, single-chambered, two-valved, spindle-shaped capsule containing numerous seeds. Seeds: covered with short, blunt, round projections.
Similar species: Gentianopsis crinita is very similar to G. procera, but that species tends to be smaller in stature, with fewer and smaller flowers; the leaves are narrower, and less than 1 cm wide; the sepals are fused for only 1.5 - 3 cm, and the sepal lobes have rough ridges running lengthwise down them; the petals are more ascending, and fringed only on the sides so the broad tip is only jagged-toothed; and the ovary and capsule are not stalked.
Flowering: late August to early November
Habitat and ecology: Low woods and wet meadows, but rare today. Found more consistently in the eastern part of the Chicago Region in Indiana's Lake and Porter Counties around the edges of some large ponds and pannes (calcareous interdunal ponds).
Occurence in the Chicago region: native
Etymology: Gentianopsis means "resembling the genus Gentiana" (which is named after Gentius, king of Illyria, who supposedly discovered a medicinal value for the yellow gentian). Crinita is the Latin word for long hair, referring to the long fringe on the petals.
Plants 3-8 dm, often branched above; lvs sessile, lance-ovate to lanceolate or rarely lance-linear, broadly rounded at base, typically 3-6 נ1-2 cm; fls bright blue, solitary on peduncles 5-20 cm terminating the axis and lateral branches; cal 2.5-4 cm, cleft to the middle into acuminate lobes of very unequal width, smooth or nearly so; cor (3)4-5.5 cm, the obovate lobes deeply fringed around the summit and part way down the sides; 2n=78. Low woods, wet meadows, and brook-banks; s. Me. to Md. and locally along the mts. to Ga., w. to Man., S.D., and Io. Aug.-Oct. (Gentiana c.; Anthopogon c.)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.
An infrequent to common plant in open, springy places, marshes, interdunal flats and on the sandy borders of sloughs in the dune area. This is a much admired plant and attempts to naturalize it usually fail because it is so exacting in its habitat. It was formerly common in certain marshes but since these have been grazed it has disappeared or only a few plants have been able to persist.