I meditated on the fringed gentian in last week's Nature Notes article in the Lakeville Journal, readable here
with free registration.
...Fall blooming plants fill a fascinating evolutionary niche. They eschew competing for pollinators throughout most of the growing season, serving as welcome nectar sources for migrating butterflies and other species when other wildflowers have gone to seed. A number of asters, including some of the showiest, also bloom in late summer and into the fall, as do the various goldenrods.
The gentian, though, standing singly or in isolated patches, is nearer to earth than the swaying asters and nodding goldenrod. Poets note its lonely solitude, a lovely sentinel at the ragged end of summer. Victorians invested great meaning in flowers, with the gentian a symbol of enduring hope in the face of certain mortality...