Gratiola - Gratiola officinalis

Extremely pretty plant, with horizontal, underground rhizome and smooth, erect stem, up to a half a metre tall, cylindrical at the base and square in the upper portion, with few branches.

Opposite, lanceolate leaves with blade up to 4 cm long. Solitary flowers, growing from the leaf axis on a 1 or 2 cm long stalk. Elongated, tubular corolla, terminating in two lips of five petals, two upper and three lower, varying from white to pink with reddish or violet hues.

Gratiola officinalis grows on temporary flooded meadows and the margins of ditches, especially on clayey soils. It flowers from May to September. When the season is right, it is easy to see the delicate flowers of this attractive plant at Sibolla, at the margins of the partially flooded tract between the small canal port leading to the lake and the beginning of the walk-way.

The species is still fairly common in the wet areas of Northern and Central Italy as far south the Maremma near Grosseto. It also occurs, but is rare, in a few marshlands in southern Italy, except for Basilicata, Calabria and Sicily, where it has never been reported.