Field Gentian

Latin name: Gentianella campestris

Family: Gentianaceae

Imagine wandering across calcareous grassland on a sunny day with the scent of wild thyme in the air. Stop for a moment to catch your breath and admire the view. Then notice a cluster of autumn gentians in bud between the other wildflowers and among them like purple jewels are a few gentians already in flower. But there’s something different about them. At a closer look there are two large sepals overlapping two small ones. You have stumbled across the rare and beautiful Field gentian.

Nationally field gentians are mainly found in Scotland, northern England, North Wales and the north of Northern Ireland. In the Yorkshire Dales National Park they have been recorded in Upper Wharfedale, Langstrothdale, Littondale, Malhamdale and Ribblesdale. In addition, there are some low resolution records covering Wensleydale, Swaledale and Arkengarthdale.

In 2011 and 2012, experienced local naturalists and YDNPA surveyors, teamed up with the Botanical Society the British Isles (BSBI), to contribute towards their Threatened Plants Project nationally. We were delighted to find this rare species alive and well on a number of sites in the Dales and spotted some previously unrecorded sites too. This survey work will continue as part of our on-going wildlife conservation work to implement the Local Biodiversity Action Plan.

At risk?

Nationally this species has suffered a sustained decline since before 1930 and sites are still being lost through overgrazing in the uplands and the neglect of lowland pastures. Its status on the Vascular Plant Red Data List for Great Britain (2005) is Vulnerable. It is a UKBAP priority species, in the BSBI’s National Threatened Plants Project and is a Local BAP species in Nature in the Dales: 2020 Vision.

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Still summer’s song beats in my blood Alan Hartley

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