Description: Glabrous herbs [or rarely shrubs or small trees].
Leaves mostly opposite and decussate, simple, usually entire; stipules absent.
Inflorescence a thyrse, often varying from few to many dichasia or sometimes flowers solitary. Flowers actinomorphic, bisexual, 4–9-merous. Calyx mostly tubular, sometimes divided nearly to the base, 4- or 5-lobed; lobes imbricate. Corolla mostly long-tubular, 4- or 5-lobed; lobes contorted in bud; tube often folded longitudinally between the lobes. Stamens as many as corolla lobes and alternating with them, fused to corolla tube. Ovary superior, 1- or 2-locular, with parietal or subaxile placentas; ovules numerous; style simple with stigma entire or 2-lobed or style 2-lobed.
Fruit a septicidal capsule [or rarely a berry]; seeds small, numerous.
Distribution and occurrence: World: 80 genera, 900 species, cosmopolitan, chiefly temperate regions. Australia: 6 genera, 14 species, all States.
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Gentianaceae, Order: Gentianales)
A few species are cultivated as ornamentals, often as rockery plants; Gentiana acaulis L. and G. verma L. are often grown for their blue flowers; both species are native of Europe.
Text by G. J. Harden
Taxa not yet included in identification key
| ||Key to the genera|| |
|1||Corolla red or pink||2|
|Corolla white, yellow, purple or blue||3|
|2||Style slightly bifid; stigma lobes reniform to shoeshaped, fleshy; capsule linear in shape||Centaurium |
|Style not divided to subcapitate; stigma lobes rhombic to fan-shaped, not fleshy; capsule elliptic to oval in shape|
Back to 1
|3||Corolla yellow; ovary 1- or 2-locular||3|
|Corolla blue or white with purple or blue markings; ovary 1-locular|
Back to 3
|4||Calyx 5–6 mm long, lobes more than 4 mm long; ovary 2-locular, stigma 2-lobed or stigmas 2||Sebaea|
|Calyx 2–5 mm long, lobes less than 2 mm long; ovary 1-locular, stigma peltate on a filiform style|
Back to 3
|5||Corolla white with 5–9 prominent dark veins on each lobe, broad-campanulate, 5-lobed but without small lobes alternating with the major lobes; capsule partly enclosed in the persistent calyx and corolla||Gentianella|
|Corolla blue with 3 or fewer faint veins on each lobe, tubular with 5 spreading lobes, and with small folded lobes alternating with the major lobes; capsule usually exserted beyond the persistent calyx and corolla by elongation of the stipe|