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Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum (Texas bluebells)
Leander, Bruce

Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum

Eustoma exaltatum (L.) Salisb. ex G. Don ssp. russellianum (Hook.) Kartesz

Texas Bluebells, Texas Bluebell, Bluebell, Showy Prairie Gentian, Prairie Gentian

Gentianaceae (Gentian Family)

Synonym(s): Eustoma grandiflorum, Eustoma russellianum


USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Both the leaves and erect, 1 - 3 ft. stems of Prairie Gentian are blue-green and covered with a waxy bloom. The extremely showy flowers can be blue, purple, pink, white, or yellow. Bell-shaped and upright, the flowers occur singly at the ends of long stalks from short branches near the top of the plant.

Depending on where this species is grown, it may act like an annual, a biennial or a perennial. In most of its native range it's a perennial. This subspecies (formerly considered the species E. grandiflorum) is one of the handsomest prairie wildflowers. Eustoma, from the Greek eu ("good") and stoma ("mouth"), refers to the large opening into the flower's "throat" where the corolla lobes join. The Japanese have been breeding Texas Bluebells for over 70 years. In Japan, this plant is known as Lisianthus, an older name for the Eustoma genus. It has been developed in pink, white, and deep purple blue color varieties with both single and doubled petaled flowers. One reason Texas Bluebells are not as common now as they once were is due to their beauty. People have literally picked them from the wild in such numbers that the wild populations have been unable to reseed in their native habitat.


From the Image Gallery

84 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Annual , Perennial , Biennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 3 feet tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink , Yellow , Blue , Purple
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep


USA: AR , CO , KS , LA , MT , NE , NM , OK , SD , TX , WY
Native Distribution: NE to s.e. WY, s. to TX & Mex.
Native Habitat: Found in moist places in fields and prairies, especially in areas adjacent to streams and tanks.

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil Description: Moist, sandy or sandy loams.
Conditions Comments: The large flowers have an intense hue and keep blooming when many other plants are looking crispy and brown in the summer. The blue-gray foliage is almost succulent. Combined with Indian grass, bluebells looks great, especially in larger gardens.


Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Deer Resistant: High


Propagation Material: Seeds
Description: The seed is exceptionally small and somewhat difficult to germinate. The best results have come from surface seeding (since the seed requires light for germination) in flats at approximately 70 75 degrees. Field seeding can be done in spring or fall, however, spring germination usually results in the vegetative growth overwintering and not flowering until the second summer. Fall germination should produce flowers the first season.
Seed Collection: Collect seed when seeds inside the capsule are black.
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: When the seed capsule ripens (in September or October), the stalk may be cut back to 2 or 3 inches above the ground. By mid-September, the base will develop a cluster of 8 to 10 new shoots. These will remain as a cluster of leaves throughout the winter and resume growth in the spring. Plants that overwinter are usually much stronger and have more flowers than they do the first year.

Find Seed or Plants

Order seed of this species from Native American Seed and help support the Wildflower Center.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Native plants for seasonal poor drainage
May 16, 2006
I have an area in my front yard that has a drainage ditch running through it. When it rains, that area stays very wet. What kind of plants available for sale will work in this situation?
view the full question and answer

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 0903 Collected Jun 24, 1994 in Bexar County by Harry Cliffe

1 specimen(s) available in the Digital Herbarium

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-53 Collected 2006-06-17 in Travis County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

1 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank


Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1986 VOL. 3, NO.4 - Fall Highlights Busy Season at the Center, Wildflower Days Welcome the Holidays,...
Wildflower Newsletter 1989 VOL. 6, NO.3 - Butterfly Gardens, Director\'s Report, Proper Care Gives Staying Power to Cut Fl...
Wildflower Newsletter 1996 VOL. 13, NO.1 - Conservation in Garden Maintenance, To Prune or Not to Prune, Education Director...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum


Record Modified: 2023-02-10
Research By: TWC Staff, TMH

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