Gentianaceae (Gentian Family)

Members of Gentianaceae have opposite leaves attched directly to the stem (sessile). Calyx and corolla both have 5 (occasionally 4) lobes and the same number of stamens attched to the corolla tube. When budding, the flowers have a slight twist to them.


Many exotic Asian and European species have long been in cultivation, particularly alpine species for rock gardens. Locally, the Bay Area has several attractive pink-flowered natives, all annuals that can be easily grown from seed. A European variety, C. erythraea, can be become quite weedy and problematic if allowed to escape, and should be avoided. On Montara Mountain, Gentianaceae is represented by Centaurium muhlenburgii - (June Centaury).



Centaurium muhlenburgii:
June Centaury

Gentianaceae (Gentian Family)

Flowers: 5 petals, from purple buds to pinkish flower with yellow center, towards top of plant. Flowers have a long ovary and a minute pedicel.

Blooms: June - August. Hence the name, I guess.

Leaves: Slim, paired leaves, almost joined at base around stem, with flower stalks originating from base.

Fruit/Seeds: ??

Location: Grassy areas and along trails.

Status: Native - Common.

Centaurium muhlenburgii

Note the 5 petaled flower with stalks originating at base of the "sessile" leaves.

450x600 JPEG - 44K

Further description & Comment: 1 - 2 ft tall, growing in clusters in grassy areas.

To the left, June Centaury growing in a grassy field in McNee Ranch State Park. In past years, these plants had a range limited to a few areas of McNee Ranch State Park, but the bloom of 1998 for Centarium was the most extensive I've seen - it was even popping up in parking lots and people's yards.

We'll see how 1999 shapes up.


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