Today, I stopped by the aptly named Fringed Gentian Fen a small piece of protected wetland just north of Pittsburgh. One of the highlights of this site is a good sized population of Fringed Gentian (Gentianopsis crinita).
This species is only found in a few scattered locations in western Pennsylvania, whereas it's a little more abundant in the eastern part of the state. It's usually found in richer, open wetlands, although I've also seen it along stream banks in Erie County. It's truly one of the most striking wildflowers in the region.
This species is the inspiration behind one of William Cullen Gentian's poems.
To the Fringed Gentian
Thou blossom bright with autumn dew,
And colored with the heaven’s own blue,
That openest when the quiet light
Succeeds the keen and frosty night.
Thou comest not when violets lean
O’er wandering brooks and springs unseen,
Or columbines, in purple dressed,
Nod o’er the ground-bird’s hidden nest.
Thou waitest late and com’st alone,
When woods are bare and birds are flown,
And frosts and shortening days portend
The aged year is near his end.
Then doth thy sweet and quiet eye
Look through its fringes to the sky,
Blue-blue-as if that sky let fall
A flower from its cerulean wall.
I would that thus, when I shall see
The hour of death draw near to me,
Hope, blossoming within my heart,
May look to heaven as I depart.