What Is A Spring Gentian?
You might never have heard of a Spring Gentian, and you are probably not alone. This wild flower, native to the UK, is one of the least prolific flowers that you will see on a forest walk. It's Latin name is Gentiana Verna Gentians, and it is generally found at higher altitudes.
Where In The UK Can I Find It?
Although variations of the Gentian can be found in various locations throughout Europe, in the UK the flower can generally only be found in one of two locations: Teesdale, and Western Ireland.
Teesdale in the UK
The Gentian generally prefers Chalky soils, which further reduces it's ability to become a prolific species. As noted, it's rare appearance in the United Kingdom is a feature that also characterises the flower throughout Europe, so much so that the flower has been designated as an 'Endangered Species'.
History And Folklore
The flower was first discovered in the UK by John Harriman, and now serves as the county flower of Durham, in England's north.
Holly Somerville's drawing of the flower has since become the logo for the botany department in Trinity College Dublin, and has also appeared on a British stamp issued in 1964.
As with most things that are rare, the reputation of the flower has led to various superstitions being formed regarding it. For instance, bringing the flower into a house would risk the offending individual running the risk of being struck by lightning! Also, death, the ultimate penalty was said to follow anyone who picked the flower. However, the threat of the death penalty for picking the flower has not increased it's abundance, although it could arguably be said that it may have stopped it's extinction!
It is unlikely that you will ever see a Gentian in the UK, unless you visit Teeside or Western Ireland. Even then, it would require a foreknowledge of what you are looking for in order to identify it.
Should you be planning a trip, familiarize yourself with this rare flower, you could be one of the relatively few British folk who have set eyes upon it.