Sunday, February 18, 2024

Cuter than a bug's ear...Gentianella cerastoides

 I don't know what possessed Kunth to name this plant cerastoides...proof that botanical names are arbitrary (there are a few mouse ears with congested foliage, but none possess luminous lavender purple flowers like this, such perfect chalices dotting the Paramo).

On my recent trip to Ecuador (a tour sponsored by Denver Botanic Gardens) we only had a few days at altitude: our big alpine hike on Cotopaxi (15,000 up to 16,000') was aborted due to hurricane force winds and horizontal smow...I shall always wonder what we missed!

At first I took it for a crocus: it kept appearing again and again around the lake at the foot of Cotopaxi around 12,000' pin elevation. Here it can get chilly--even freeze--most any night of the year. But every day warms up a tad. We saw it again at other spots--it's not rare here. But it is apparently restricted to Paramo in Colombia an Ecuador.

Each time we found it it looked a tad different.. you are not seeing all the pictures I took by a LOOOONG shot--but wanted to give you glimpses of one of the charming miniatures ever. Alas, hope of growing it in Colorado is slim, despite its lofty origins in nature.

It's so DANG CUTE!

It seemed to love to grow with lady's mantle and other groundcovers

The dozens of specimens I encountered were almost always single flowering. The web shows dense little clumps with a half dozen or more flowers open simultaneously. Sacrebleu! I'd a hadda heart attack if I'd come across that!

Fun to see even in bud.

This one's almost lost in the herbiage!

This one decided to grow sideways...

Of course, one must see this in motion! You have to click the arrow again to see it (Blogger ain't perfect--and neither am I)

What lucky mortals we be to travel so far and find such treasures!


  1. You are right it is a cute little plant. Looks like it's related to the crocus. Too bad about Cotopoxi but imagine what it would have been like if you were up there when the weather hit? Could have been very exciting and chilly.

  2. I don't want to start a big argument. However, I think the Gentianella in the southern hemisphere should be in a different family than what we call Gentianella in the northern hemisphere.

  3. I can see your point, James! And far be it from me to argue with you!

    1. You are the master plantsman. However, I appreciate your pandering to my ego.


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