The British populations of Gentiana verna are clearly distinguishable morphologically into two groups by both calyx and leaf characters. These groups are coincident with the geographical areas of the species, Teesdale in north England and Galway Bay in west Ireland. On the Continent, populations from the Alps and Pyrénées are indistinguishable in calyx characters, but are significantly different from English and Irish populations. Leaf length and length/ breadth ratio are correlated and the leaf length/breadth ratio of the Continental populations is clinally correlated with their altitude. Leaf characters of British populations are similar to those Continental populations from higher altitudes, those from Teesdale being indistinguishable from those at the highest altitudes. It is considered that these differences may either be the result of random drift or genecological differentiation. The possibility of variation in leaf morphology being related to heat transfer properties is discussed.
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