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Bartram's Rosegentian
Bartram's Rosegentian
Bartram's rosegentian, photographed at J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area, Loxahatchee, Palm Beach County, in July 2015.
Bartram's Rosegentian

Hot pink in the hot summer sun. Bartram's rosegentian, Sabatia decandra, is no shrinking violet. It loudly announces its presence, ranking among South Florida's most beautiful wildflowers.

And also one of the rarest.

It's found in open, sunny and damp places — wet pinelands, savannas and ditches. It's range includes most of Florida and in a few scattered counties in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.

Bartram's rosegentian flowers from May to September. Most of the year, it's inconspicuous, with only a rosette of thick leaves as evidence that it's around. In spring, it shoots as high as two-and-a-half feet, standing tall in the panoply of meadow plants.

The flowers are large, two-and-a-half to three inches across. The scientific name, decandra, comes from the 10 petals that usually make up the flower — there can be as few as nine or as many as 12. Each petal has a bright yellow point outlined in red, forming a star shape in the center of the flower that's typical of rosegentians. The plants we saw displayed pink flowers but they do come in other shades, including, occasionally, white.

As we noted earlier, this is among the rarest flowers in South Florida. So much so that the Institute for Regional Conservation lists its status as imperiled. However, no state or federal agancy to our knowledge has classified it as threatened or endangered.

Bartram's Rosegentian

As beautiful as Bartram's rosegentian is, you'd think someone would cultivate it. No member of the Association of Florida Native Nurseries has ever offered it for sale. Some have tried to grow it — and failed.

By the way, the name honors John Bartram and his son, William Bartram, 18th and 19th century botanists who were among the first Europeans to describe the plants of the southeastern United States. The former scientific name of the plant, in fact, was Sabatia bartramii.

Bartram's rosegentian is a member of Gentianaceae, a family of 1,600 species of flowering herbs, trees and shrubs named in honor of the llyrian King Gentius. Other common names include Bartram's pink marsh, ten petal marsh pink, large marsh pink, rose gentian, Bartram's rose gentian, rose-gentian and savanna pink.

Photographs by David Sedore
Links for Bartram's Rosegentian
Institute for Regional Conservation Natives for Your Neighborhood Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants USDA PLANTS Database Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants
  Flora of North America     Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Unless otherwise stated, all photographs are property of the publishers and may not be used without their express permission.