Gentianella cerina


Gentianella: Little Gentiana (named after Gentius, 6th century king of Illyria, who found the roots of the yellow gentian to have a healing effect on his malaria-stricken troops)

Common Name(s)

Auckland Island Gentian

Current Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon
2004 - Range Restricted


2012 - IE, RR
2009 - IE


Gentianella cerina (Hook.f.) T.N.Ho et S.W.Liu



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Herbs other than Composites


Gentiana cerina Hook.f., G. cerina f. suberecta Kirk, G. cerina var. suberecta (Kirk) Cheeseman, G. campbellii Hombr. et Jacquinot ex Decne, Chionogentias cerina (Hook.f.) L.G. Adams


Endemic. New Zealand: Auckland Islands


Coastal turflands, Chionochloa antarctica tussocklands and Poa littorosa grasslands, Marsippospermum gracile and Pleurophyllum hookeri sedgeland or bare ground on summit fellfields, rarely in forest


Plants polycarpic, height in flower 90–170 mm. Caudex unbranched or branched, 110–200 mm long. Flowering stems terminal only or terminal and lateral, 3–12 per plant, 1.1–3.1 mm diameter, lateral flowering stems decumbent, flowering stem leaves 3–4 pairs per stem (not applicable in cases where no rosette is present on multi-branched plants), lowest pedicels from ½ up flowering stem to near apex of flowering stem. Rosette of leaves absent, not very distinct, or distinct from flowering plants leaves; leaves narrowly elliptic, 36.6–53.1 × 8.4–12.6 mm wide, flat, not recurved, margins thickened, apex rounded and retuse; petiole distinct, 11–13 mm long, 4.7–6.3 mm wide at leaf base. Flowering stem leaves the same but smaller. Pedicels 1 or 2 per leaf axil, 6.2–17.8 mm long, 1.2–1.3 mm diameter. Flowers 15 to more than 100 per plant, 9.9–14.1 mm long. Calyx 9.3–12.2 mm long, hairs at calyx–corolla fusion line present; lobes 7.5–10.3 mm long, 2.4–3.4 mm wide at base, plane, apices obtuse (widest near the apex), margins smooth, sinus hairs absent. Corolla 8.4–11.8 mm long, white or tinted red to purple, veins colourless or purple; tube 2.1–4.4 mm long; lobes 6.3–8.8 × 3.8–5.0 mm, hairs below sinus absent or present; nectary 1.2–1.5 mm from corolla base. Filaments 4.9–6.9 mm long from corolla base, 0.70–0.85 mm wide. Anthers 0.9– 1.7 mm long, extrorse at anthesis; pollen yellow. Stigma purple or colourless. Ovules 13–37 per ovary. Capsule 6.5–12 mm long.

Similar Taxa

Gentianella cerina differs from the only other species present on the Auckland Islands, G. concinna by its perennial growth habit; decumbent flowering stems; calyces that are 9.3–12.2 mm long, and pandurate calyx lobes which are rounded at the apices, with the corolla shorter than the calyx and with leaves which are 36–53 × 8.4–12.6 mm


December –April

Flower Colours

Violet / Purple,White


March - May

Propagation Technique

Difficult. Should not be removed from the wild


A Naturally Uncommon, range-restricted, island endemic. Abundant on the islands it is under no obvious threat. The Auckland Islands are administered as a Nature Reserve and are part of a World Heritage Park with access strictly controlled by the New Zealand Department of Conservation.

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Seeds dispersed by ballistic projection, wind and water (Thorsen et al., 2009)

Where To Buy

Not commercially available.


Description modified from Glenny (2004)

References and further reading

Glenny, D. 2004: A revision of the genus Gentianella in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 42: 361-530.

Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 11: 285-309

This page last updated on 26 Sep 2014