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Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.

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Eustoma exaltatum (Catchfly prairie gentian)
Loughmiller, Campbell and Lynn

Eustoma exaltatum

Eustoma exaltatum (L.) Salisb. ex G. Don

Catchfly Prairie Gentian, Bluebell Gentian, Western Blue Gentian, Blue Marsh Lily, Small Bluebell, Catchfly Gentian, Seaside Gentian

Gentianaceae (Gentian Family)


USDA Symbol: euex5

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Eustoma means "open mouth," referring to the large throat of the flower. It prefers damp areas and seems to reach peak condition on moist prairies, where it sometimes grows in profusion. The large, bell-shaped flowers, 2-3 inches across, have 5-7 bluish-purple petals, less than 1 inch long, which are constricted into a small tube at the base and have prominent purple markings in the throat. The plants are 1-3 feet high with smooth, erect stems and branches. The leaves are long and oval with pointed tips, 1-2 1/2 inches long.

Although it is often referred to as the Seaside Gentian, this plant is not restricted to coastal habitats; it also grows in the Great Plains from Montana to New Mexico. The interior subspecies, E. exaltum ssp. russellianum, is called the Showy Prairie Gentian. The genus name, from the Greek eu ("good") and stoma ("mouth"), refers to the wide opening of the corolla tube.


From the Image Gallery

12 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Annual
Habit: Herb
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 3 feet tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Blue , Purple
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov
Bloom Notes: The large, bell-shaped flowers, 2-3 inches across, have 5-7 bluish-purple petals, less than 1 inch long, which are constricted into a small tube at the base and have prominent purple markings in the throat below a white band.


USA: AL , AR , AZ , CA , CO , FL , KS , LA , MS , MT , NE , NM , OK , SD , TX , WY
Native Distribution: Southern United States from Florida west to California and north in the interior to Montana and South Dakota.
Native Habitat: Sandy coastal areas, moist places in prairies and fields, and saline to freshwater marshes.

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist


Conspicuous Flowers: yes

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

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

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
Nueces River Authority - Uvalde, TX


Bibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 248 - Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide (1984) Loughmiller, C. & L. Loughmiller

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

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


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

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