Gentianella lilliputiana


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)

Little 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 - Sp
2009 - EF


Gentianella lilliputiana (C.J.Webb) Glenny



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Herbs other than Composites


Gentiana lilliputiana C.J.Webb, Chionogentias lilliputiana (C.J.Webb) L.G.Adams


Endemic. New Zealand: South Island (south Canterbury (Kirkliston Range, Hawkdun Range) and Otago (Dunstan Range)


Alpine in bogs and flushes in alpine grasslands and herbfields on low relief ridge tops


Plants annual, monocarpic, annual, 6-25 mm tall in flower. Caudex unbranched. Taproot slender. Flowering stems terminal only or terminal and lateral, 1–4 per plant, stem colour yellow, lateral flowering stems erect or decumbent, c.0.7-0.6 mm diameter; flowering stem leaves 1–2 pairs per stem, lowest pedicels from near apex of flowering stem. Rosette of leaves absent from flowering plants, leaves linear or narrowly elliptic, 1.5–13 × 0.5–2.0 mm, flat, not recurved, petiole indistinct, 2–7 mm long, 0.4–0.6 mm wide at leaf base. Flowering stem leaves narrower than leaves. Pedicels 0.7–1.7 mm long, c. 0.5 mm diameter. Flowers 1–4 per plant, 3.7–5.0 mm long. Calyx 4–5-lobed, 2.4–6.2 mm long, green tinted purple-black, hairs at calyx–corolla fusion line absent; lobes 1.0–3.3 mm long, 0.95–2.1 mm wide at base, plane, apices acute, margins smooth, sinus hairs absent. Corolla 3.4–4.3 mm long, white, veins uncoloured; tube 1.4–3.2 mm long; 4–5-lobed, lobes 2.0–3.6 mm long, 1.3–2.3 mm wide, hairs below sinus absent; nectary 0.6–1.0 mm from corolla base. Filaments 1.9–4.1 mm long from corolla base, 0.2–0.3 mm wide. Anthers 0.4–0.7 mm long, introrse at anthesis. Ovules 2–13 per ovary. Capsule 4.0–6.0 mm long.

Similar Taxa

Easily distinguished from other Gentianella by its annual growth habit; very small size; and usually by the presence of a single terminal, mostly 4-merous flower (though on occasion there may be up to four flowers present). It most closely resembles G. filipes which is endemic to north-west Nelson in size. In Otago cushion bogs it could be confused with G. amabilis. From which it differs by being an annual, rather than a perennial, by its parts being very much smaller and by the flat rather than V-shaped leaves.


January – February

Flower Colours



February - April

Propagation Technique

Difficult. Should not be removed from the wild


A Naturally Uncommon, Range-restricted endemic which is locally common within its few known habitats. At present here are no known threats.

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 Commericially 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