Blue Heron Ministries

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Last of the Blooms – by Nate Simons

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Bottle gentian – by John Mowry

On a mission to locate it, John Mowry captured this photo of a single flower of the bottle gentian. Bottle gentian is one of the last prairie flowers to bloom. The second week of October, John found this plant showing off its autumnal beauty in a wet prairie near a tamarack tree in northeast Steuben County. Also called closed gentian (Gentiana andrewsii), this flower never opens. The flower is only pollinated by bumble bees that are strong enough to force the closed petals open. Completely disappearing inside, the bee gathers nectar, accidentally covers itself in pollen while turning around, forces open the petals, then exits to fly away to another.

One thought on “Last of the Blooms – by Nate Simons

  1. I’ve had the pleasure of watching bumble bees enter bottle gentian flowers, have the corolla close behind it, then 10-20 seconds latter back out and fly away. This year I saw and videoed a bumble bee enter the corolla part way, with its back end sticking out. As I learned in Wilhelm & Rericha’s Flora of the Chicago Region, in the early stage of the flower development, the anthers completely surround the pistil and produce pollen before the the pistil matures; at this stage the bees only have to enter part way to reach the pollen.


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