Gentianella luteoalba


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)
luteoalba: yellowish white

Common Name(s)

cream 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 - RR


Gentianella luteoalba Glenny



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Herbs other than Composites


None (described in 2004)


Endemic. New Zealand. South Island: (north-west Nelson, Lookout and Hope Range)


Alpine, on sparse vegetated, virtually bare granite gravel exposures on steep sides, but low relief ridge tops


Plants monocarpic, biennial, height in flower 25–60 mm (rosette of leaves compact, 22–70 mm diameter). Caudex unbranched, to 55 mm long. Root 2.2–4.4 mm diameter at stem base. Flowering stems terminal, largest flowering stem 3.0–5.0 mm diameter at base, stem colour green or tinted purple-black, flowering stem leaves 1 pair per stem, lowest pedicels from near base of flowering stem to ½ up flowering stem. Rosette of leaves present but not very distinct or present and distinct from flowering stem leaves, leaves tongue-like, 10.5–33 × 4.2–5.2 mm, green, margins dark red-brown, channelled, recurved or not, leaf apex rounded; petiole absent, leaf 2.7–5.0 mm wide at base. Pedicels 1 per leaf axil, 1–21 mm long, 1.0–1.3 mm diameter. Flowers 14-133 per plant, 12.5–19.5 mm long. Calyx 6.7–8.4 mm long, green, tinted brown, hairs at calyx–corolla fusion line present; lobes 4.8–5.9 mm long, 2.2–2.9 mm wide at base, plane, apices acute, margins smooth or minutely denticulate at lobe base or for full length of margin, sinus hairs sparse to abundant. Corolla 11.6–14.9 mm long, uniformly pale yellow; tube 3.8–4.7 mm long; lobes 9.2–10.2 × 5.1–6.3 mm wide, hairs below sinus present; nectary 1.5–2.0 mm from corolla base. Filaments 7.8–9.9 mm long from corolla base, 0.6–0.8 mm wide. Anthers 1.0–2.1 mm long, anther wall blue-black, mouth yellow, extrorse at anthesis; pollen yellow. Stigma colourless. Ovules 9–20 per ovary, ovary turning slightly blue in maturity. Capsule 5.6–7.5 mm long.

Similar Taxa

Most similar to G. divisa and G. magnifica neither of which is present in north-west Nelson. Distinguished by the biennial growth habit and overall small size (25-60 mm tall); by the thick taproot (up to 4.4. mm diameter at stem base); by the lower epidermal leaf cells which are non-zigzagged and which have thickened walls; by numerous (up to 133) uniformly pale yellow flowers; by the corolla length (up to 14.9 mm), calyx lobes which are longer than wide; and filaments up to 0.8 mm wide. In this species the flowering stem is so condensed that the main stem is not visible.


February –March

Flower Colours



March – May

Propagation Technique

Difficult. Should not be removed from the wild


A Naturally Uncommon, Range-restricted endemic, which is locally abundant within its few known habitats. All known populations occur within Kahurangi National Park. There are no known threats.

Chromosome No.

2n = 36

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