Gentiana lutea

Yellow Gentian

  • Gentiana lutea

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Min. hardiness zone:
Item ID:

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Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia (Hrvatska), Malta

Growing Info

Scarification: Soak in water, let stand in water for 24 hours
Stratification: cold stratify for 60 days
Germination: sow seed 1/16" deep, tamp the soil, lightly mulch the seed bed.

Gentiana lutea, also known as Great Yellow Gentian, is a native species of gentian found in the mountains of central and southern Europe. This remarkable plant has a long history of use as a herbal bitter in the treatment of digestive disorders and is an ingredient of many proprietary medicines. It is highly valued for its intensely bitter root and every part of the herbage.

Gentian root contains some of the most bitter compounds known and is used as a scientific basis for measuring bitterness. It is especially useful in cases of debility, weakness of the digestive system, and lack of appetite, making it an excellent tonic for the human system. It also aids in stimulating the liver, gall bladder, and digestive system, making it a popular choice for those suffering from chronic disease and exhaustion.

Gentiana lutea is an herbaceous perennial plant that grows up to a height of 1-2 meters. It features broad lanceolate to elliptic leaves that are 10-30 cm long and 4-12 cm broad. The flowers are a vibrant yellow, with the corolla separated into 5-7 narrow petals. It typically thrives in grassy alpine and sub-alpine pastures, particularly on calcareous soils.

The medicinal parts of Gentiana lutea include both the dried, underground parts of the plant and the fresh, above-ground parts. The root, which can be over 5 cm thick, is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use. It is cautionary to use, as it is considered to be an endangered species. Therefore, its use should be approached with care, and alternatives like Centaurium erythraea should be considered.

Gentiana lutea is not only valued for its medicinal properties but also for its historical and cultural significance. The herb owes its name to Gentius, an Illyrian king who was thought to have discovered its tonic properties. It is even depicted on the reverse of the Albanian 2000 lekë banknote, highlighting its importance.

In addition to its medical uses, extracts of gentian root can also be found in the American soft drink Moxie, which is known for its unique flavor. It is also used in France to produce a Limousin specialty liqueur and aperitif, collected from plants in the Auvergne area.

The European Gentian Association in Lausanne, Cercle Européen d'Etude des Gentianacées, is an organization aimed at developing knowledge and uses of yellow gentian and other species of Gentianaceae.

In conclusion, Gentiana lutea, or Great Yellow Gentian, is a powerful herbal remedy native to central and southern Europe. With its intensely bitter compounds and medicinal properties, it has long been valued for its effectiveness in treating digestive disorders and chronic disease. Its historical significance, cultural value, and unique flavor make it a beloved ingredient in various products.

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