From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Gentian)

Gentiana verna
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Gentianaceae
Tribe: Gentianeae
Subtribe: Gentianinae
Genus: Gentiana
Type species
Gentiana lutea L.

See text

  • Aloitis Raf.
  • Anthopogon Neck.
  • Asterias Borkh.
  • Bilamista Raf.
  • Calathiana Delarbre
  • Chaelothilus Neck.
  • Chiophila Raf.
  • Chondrophylla A.Nelson
  • Ciminalis Adans.
  • Coilantha Borkh.
  • Cruciata Gilib.
  • Cuttera Raf.
  • Dasistepha Raf.
  • Dasystephana Adans.
  • Dicardiotis Raf.
  • Diploma Raf.
  • Endotriche Steud.
  • Ericala Reneaulme ex Gray
  • Ericoila Reneaulme ex Borkh.
  • Favargera Á.Löve & D.Löve
  • Gaertneria Neck.
  • Gentianodes Á.Löve & D.Löve
  • Gentianusa Pohl
  • Hippion F.W.Schmidt
  • Holubia Á.Löve & D.Löve
  • Holubogentia Á.Löve & D.Löve
  • Kudoa Masam.
  • Kuepferella M.Laínz
  • Kurramiana Omer & Qaiser
  • Lexipyretum Dulac
  • Pneumonanthe Gled.
  • Psalina Raf.
  • Qaisera Omer
  • Rassia Neck.
  • Ricoila Reneaulme ex Raf.
  • Sebeokia Neck.
  • Selatium D.Don ex G.Don
  • Spiragyne Neck.
  • Thylacitis Reneaulme ex Adans.
  • Thyrophora Neck.
  • Tretorhiza Adans.
  • Tretorrhiza Reneaulme ex Delarbre
  • Varasia Phil.
  • Xolemia Raf.

Gentiana (/ˌɛniˈnə/)[2] is a genus of flowering plants belonging to the gentian family (Gentianaceae), the tribe Gentianeae, and the monophyletic subtribe Gentianinae. With about 400 species, it is considered a large genus. Gentians are notable for their mostly large trumpet-shaped flowers, which are often of an intense blue hue.[3]

The genus name is a tribute to Gentius, an Illyrian king who may have discovered tonic properties in gentians.[4]


Gentiana frigida

This is a cosmopolitan genus, occurring in alpine habitats in temperate regions of Asia, Europe and the Americas. Some species also occur in northwestern Africa, eastern Australia, and New Zealand. They are annual, biennial, and perennial plants. Some are evergreen, others are not.

Many gentians are difficult to grow outside their wild habitat, but several species are available in cultivation. Gentians are fully hardy and can grow in full sun or partial shade. They grow in well-drained, neutral-to-acid soils rich in humus. They are popular in rock gardens.


Many beverages are made with gentian root.[5] Gentiana lutea is used to produce gentian, a distilled beverage produced in the Alps and in the Auvergne.[6] Some species are harvested for the manufacture of apéritifs, liqueurs, and tonics.

Gentian root is a common beverage flavouring for bitters. The soft drink Moxie contains gentian root.[7] The French apéritif Suze is made with gentian. Americano apéritifs contain gentian root for bitter flavoring.[8] It is an ingredient in the Italian liqueur Aperol. It is also used as the main flavor in the German after-dinner digestif called Underberg, and the main ingredient in Angostura bitters and Peychaud's Bitters.

The bitter principle of gentian root is primarily gentiopicrin (also called gentiopicroside),[9] a glycoside. A 2007 paper by a Japanese group identified 23 compounds in fresh gentian root.[10] Gentiopicrin was absent from fresh root, so it possibly develops during drying and storage of the root.

Gentian has had a limited use in perfumery, most notably as a glycerine soap (Crabtree & Evelyn) and a perfume (Corday's Possession, 1937).

Pharmacological uses[edit]

Great yellow gentian (Gentiana lutea) is used in herbal medicine for digestive problems, fever, hypertension, muscle spasms, parasitic worms, wounds, cancer, sinusitis, and malaria,[11] although studies have shown minimal efficacy beyond that of a placebo with regard to the treatment of anxiety and ADHD in children.[12][13][14] It has been studied and proven in effectively managing dyspepsia.[15]

Gentiana punctata leaves and roots have been used in traditional Austrian medicine internally and externally as liqueur or tea for disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, skin, locomotor system, liver and bile, and for pediatric problems, fever, flu, rheumatism, and gout.[16]

Gentiana purpurea, Gentiana punctata, and Gentiana pannonica are used to produce gentian schnapps, traditionally used as a digestive aid. In Ayurvedic medicine the endangered Indian gentian Gentiana kurroo has been used as a medical herb, but has been replaced with the Himalayan plant Picrorhiza kurroa, Plantaginaceae or Picrorhiza scrophulariiflora (胡黃蓮 Hú Huáng Lián) from traditional Chinese medicine.


Coat of arms of the German-speaking Community of Belgium
The emblem of the Minamoto clan

The gentian flower was used as the emblem of the Minamoto clan, one of the four great clans that dominated Japanese politics during the Heian period and went on to establish the first Shogunate in the aftermath of the Genpei War.[citation needed] It is the official flower (called Enzian) of the German-speaking community of Belgium.



Gentians have oppositely arranged leaves, sometimes in a basal rosette. The trumpet-shaped flowers are usually deep blue or azure, but can be white, cream, yellow, or red. Many species are polymorphic with respect to flower color, bearing flowers of different colors. Blue-flowered species predominate in the Northern Hemisphere, with red-flowered species dominant in the Andes, where bird pollination is probably more often favored by natural selection. White-flowered species are scattered throughout the range of the genus but dominate in New Zealand. Most flowers are pentamerous, with five lobes in the corolla and five sepals. A few species have four to seven flower parts. The corolla has folds called plicae between the lobes. The style is short or absent. The ovary is mostly sessile and has nectary glands.

List of accepted species[edit]


Formerly placed here[edit]



Gentiana paradoxa

Several gentian species may be found in cultivation, and are valued for the unusual intensity of their blue flowers. They have a reputation for being difficult to grow. All require similar conditions – moist, rich, free-draining soil with an acid to neutral pH. They include:[3]

In addition, the following cultivars, of mixed or uncertain parentage, have gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit:[20]


  1. ^ "Gentiana Tourn. ex L." Plants of the World Online. Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 2017. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  2. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book (6th ed.). Menlo Park, Calif.: Sunset Publishing Corp. 1995. pp. 606–607. ISBN 978-0-376-03850-0.
  3. ^ a b RHS A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 978-1-4053-3296-5.
  4. ^ Jepson WL (1953). A manual of the Flowering Plants of California. Berkeley: University of California. p. 763. ISBN 978-0-520-00606-5. Gentiana gentius.
  5. ^ Strewe L. "Ethnobotany of gentians". Gentian Research Network.
  6. ^ "Espace Avèze | Office de Tourisme du Pays de Salers".
  7. ^ Orchant R (March 1, 2013). "Moxie: The distinctively different soda that New England loves". The Huffington Post.
  8. ^ "Quinquina & Americano by Brand". Vermouth 101.
  9. ^ PubChem. Gentiopicroside.
  10. ^ The chemical constituents of fresh Gentian Root, Hidehiro Ando, Yasuaki Hirai, Mikio Fujii, Yumiko Hori, Motonori Fukumura, Yujiro Niiho, Yoshijiro Nakajima, Toshiro Shibata, Kazuo Toriizuka, Yoshiteru Ida. Journal of Natural Medicines. July 2007, Volume 61, Issue 3, pp. 269–279. doi:10.1007/s11418-007-0143-x
  11. ^ "Gentian". WebMD.
  12. ^ Ernst E (August 2010). "Bach flower remedies: a systematic review of randomised clinical trials". Swiss Medical Weekly. 140: w13079. doi:10.4414/smw.2010.13079. PMID 20734279.
  13. ^ Walach H, Rilling C, Engelke U (2001). "Efficacy of Bach-flower remedies in test anxiety: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial with partial crossover". Journal of Anxiety Disorders. 15 (4): 359–66. doi:10.1016/S0887-6185(01)00069-X. PMID 11474820.
  14. ^ Pintov S, Hochman M, Livne A, Heyman E, Lahat E (2005). "Bach flower remedies used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children—a prospective double blind controlled study". European Journal of Paediatric Neurology. 9 (6): 395–8. doi:10.1016/j.ejpn.2005.08.001. PMID 16257245.
  15. ^ McMullen MK, Whitehouse JM, Towell A (2015). "Bitters: Time for a New Paradigm". Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2015: 670504. doi:10.1155/2015/670504. PMC 4446506. PMID 26074998.
  16. ^ Vogl S, Picker P, Mihaly-Bison J, Fakhrudin N, Atanasov AG, Heiss EH, Wawrosch C, Reznicek G, Dirsch VM, Saukel J, Kopp B (October 2013). "Ethnopharmacological in vitro studies on Austria's folk medicine—an unexplored lore in vitro anti-inflammatory activities of 71 Austrian traditional herbal drugs". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 149 (3): 750–71. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.06.007. PMC 3791396. PMID 23770053.
  17. ^ "The Plant List: Gentiana L." Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Missouri Botanic Garden. 2013. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  18. ^ English Names for Korean Native Plants (PDF). Pocheon: Korea National Arboretum. 2015. p. 477. ISBN 978-89-97450-98-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 16 December 2016 – via Korea Forest Service.
  19. ^ "The Plant List: A working list of all plant species".
  20. ^ "AGM Plants – Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 42. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  21. ^ "Gentiana 'Blue Silk'". RHS Plantfinder. Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  22. ^ "Gentiana 'Shot Silk'". RHS Plantfinder. Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  23. ^ "Gentiana 'Strathmore'". RHS Plantfinder. Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 27 February 2018.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]