As we left the stump of the once impressive round tower behind and began our gentle climb towards Teampall Bheanáin above, we came upon several little groups of the gorgeous Spring Gentian.
A flower of the Burren, its Aran Island outposts and a few sites in north Galway and south Mayo, the Spring Gentian truly is one of the most beautiful of Ireland’s native wildflowers. Its particular hue of blue attracts the eye very quickly, as it lies low in the grass among the pinks, purples, whites and yellows of the Orchids, Daisies, Bird’s Foot Trefoils and Sea Thrift.
What I find particularly attractive about this little flower is the slightly off-oval shape of the stunning petals. They come to a slight point at the end, resulting in a quite unusual form and marking them out from other flowers. The white centre (‘throat’) to the otherwise fabulous blue petals is simply beautiful.
Each flower of the Spring Gentian is on its own bulbous stem, standing quite erect, to a height of just 4 – 6 cm. The flower head has a diameter of only around 2 cm and could well be overlooked if it wasn’t for the stunning blue colour.
For all you need to know about Ireland’s wildflowers, consult Zoe Devlin’s fantastic Wildflowers of Ireland website, or enjoy her beautiful accompanying book of the same title – a great present for the wildflower enthusiast.
Zoe Devlin describes Spring Gentian
Zoe comments that it “is the wildflower for which the Burren is famed. Although there are many startlingly attractive flowers growing in this wonderful limestone area of western Ireland, the Spring Gentian is the plant which has become best known of all by those seeking to see the Burren’s great variety of flowers. Its pure, bright blue flowers are extremely beautiful. As each of the petal tubes unfurl, they spread to reveal a little white throat”. Gorgeous.