The Gentianella Hirculus is a beautiful and unique species of gentian that can be found in the high-altitude humid páramo of southern Ecuador. Its scientific name, Gentianella hirculus (Griseb.) Fabris, is derived from its association with the gentian family, Gentianaceae Juss.
This biennial to perennial herb is known for its cushion-like growths, which can reach up to 10 cm in height. Its stem is prostrate to ascending or erect, hairless, and reddish in color. Its opposite leaves are lanceolate and can grow up to 15 mm long.
What makes the Gentianella Hirculus stand out are its beautiful flowers that grow at the top of the stem. These flowers can be found either singly or in groups of two to four, and they are up to 20 mm long on a stalk, barely open. The corolla lobes of these flowers are elliptical to oblong, overlapping in a roof-like manner, and slightly open only at the tip. Their vibrant yellow color with a red margin adds to the beauty of the species.
Gentianella Hirculus is an endemic species of southern Ecuador, specifically found in the Azuay province of the Northern Andes. Its habitat is limited to the high-altitude humid páramo, where it grows at elevations ranging from approximately 3500 to 4400 meters. Unfortunately, the species is facing threats due to the relatively significant anthropogenic pressure on the area, which is leading to habitat destruction and fragmentation. As a result, the species is classified as endangered (EN) by the IUCN Red List.
In conclusion, Gentianella Hirculus is a unique and beautiful species of the gentian family that is facing serious threats to its survival. Its distinctive features and habitat make it an important component of the biodiversity of southern Ecuador. Therefore, conservation efforts must be put in place to protect the species and ensure its continued existence for future generations to appreciate.