In the catalog of Smoky Mtns wildflowers, there are several species of Gentians represented. The variety shown here is Soapwort Gentian (Gentiana saponaria). It has the characteristic tight cluster of tubular blossoms that require bees to pry apart the petals as they do their pollination work.
These are stunning late summer wildflowers which bloom in September in the lower elevations of the Smokies.
The genus takes its name from King Gentius, a ruler of 6th century Illyria, who thought the plant could cure his malaria-plagued soldiers.
If you are traveling in the Smokies on vacation, please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mtns Photos at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN. There may be a special Smokies photo memory for you to take home.
And if you are a wildflowers enthusiast, please join our Smoky Mtns Wildflowers Community on Facebook. We exchange photos and identifications, bloom locations, and info on these delicate and beautiful plants.