Closed Gentian (Bottle Gentian)
A prairie forb with stems to 2½ feet long, either upright or trailing, with stalkless, opposite leaves. Blooms August through October. Flowers are in dense, terminal clusters, or a few from upper leaf axils, to 1½ inches long, always closed, cylindrical. As the flowers mature, their color changes from wine-red through purple to blue. Long-flowering. The flowers look something like large flower buds and are pollinated by bumblebees, which are large and strong enough to push their way through the tiny opening at the tip. Leaves are large, up to 6 inches long, oval to lance-shaped, opposite, appearing whorled, dark green.