The color of the attractive, barrel-shaped flowers of gentianella amarella
ranges from pink to blue to deepish purple, though the buds are light yellow. Flowers grow in small clusters from the tip of the stem and from most of the leaf axils. The tubular corolla opens out widely (a third to a half of the length of the tube) into five pointed lobes, revealing a circular group of long white hairs. The base of the lobes have small fringes. Flower heads are supported by a green, five-lobed calyx, about half as long.
The leaves and stems of the northern gentian are hairless, and both often have a distinct purple tinge. Stem leaves typically number from 5 to 8, in opposite pairs, separated by 1 to 2 inches. Stems are unbranched, and grow upwards. Leaves have five lengthwise veins.