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Gentiana lutea is an herbaceous perennial plant, growing to 1–2 m (3.3–6.6 ft) tall, with broad lanceolate to elliptic leaves 10–30 cm (3.9–11.8 in) long and 4–12 cm (1.6–4.7 in) broad. The flowers are yellow, with the corolla separated nearly to the base into 5–7 narrow petals. It grows in grassy alpine and sub-alpine pastures, usually on calcareous soils.
Gentian root has a long history of use as an herbal bitter and is an ingredient of many proprietary medicines. The parts used include the dried, underground parts of the plant and the fresh, above-ground parts. The root, which can be over 5 cm (2.0 in) thick and has few branches, is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use. Caution should be exercised as to its use because it is endangered, and the closely related Centaurium erythraea shares many of its constituents and actions.
Extracts of gentian root can be found in the American soft drink Moxie, and its unique flavor is attributed to that fact. It is used in France to produce a number of bitter liqueurs, including Salers in the Cantal, and a Limousin specialty liqueur and aperitif called Avèze. The plants are now cultivated in the Auvergne area in view of their protected status, and they are no longer harvested from the wild in the Auvergne mountains.
The European Gentian Association in Lausanne, Cercle Européen d'Etude des Gentianacées, has the objective to develop the knowledge and uses of yellow gentian and other species of Gentianaceae.
The bitter principles of gentian root are secoiridoid glycosides amarogentin and gentiopicrin. The former is one of the most bitter natural compounds known and is used as a scientific basis for measuring bitterness.
- A manual of the flowering plants of California by Willis Linn Jepson
- page 126 of Richard V. Tuson; Bayne, James (1895), A pharmacopoeia including the outlines of materia medica and therapeutics for the use of practitioners and students of veterinary medicine (5th ed., rev. & ed. by James Bayne ed.), Philadelphia P. Blakiston, Son & Co, retrieved 28 October 2011 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) see also https://openlibrary.org/books/OL24167194M/A_pharmacopoeia_including_the_outlines_of_materia_medica_and_therapeutics_for_the_use_of_practitioners_and_students_of_veterinary_medicine
- Bank of Albania. Currency: Banknotes in circulation Archived February 26, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. – Retrieved on 23 March 2009.
- Heilpflanzen:Gentiana lutea Archived 2009-09-02 at the Wayback Machine (German)
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