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Gentiana

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Gentiana

Gentiana
Gentiana verna
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Gentianaceae
Genus: Gentiana L.
Species

See text.

Gentiana [1] 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. They are notable for their mostly large, trumpet-shaped flowers, which are often of an intense blue.[2]

The genus name is a tribute to Gentius, an Illyrian king who may have been the discoverer of tonic properties in gentians.[3]

Habitat

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.

Uses

Many beverages are made with gentian root.[4] It is used to produce gentian, a distilled beverage produced in the Alps. 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.[5] The French liqueur Suze is made with gentian. Americano apéritifs contain gentian root for bitter flavoring.[6] 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 Angustora bitters.

Pharmacological Uses

Gentian is used in herbal medicine to treat digestive problems, fever, hypertension, muscle spasms, parasitic worms, wounds, cancer, sinusitis, and malaria.[7] Gentian has also been listed as one of the 38 plants that are used to prepare Bach flower remedies,[8] a kind of alternative medicine. However according to Cancer Research UK, "there is no scientific evidence to prove that flower remedies can control, cure or prevent any type of disease, including cancer".[9]

Gentiana punctata leaves and roots have been used in the traditional Austrian medicine internally and externally as liqueur or tea for treatment of disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, skin, locomotor system, liver and bile, for paediatric problems, fever, flu, rheumatism and gout.[10]

Species

General

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 5 lobes in the corolla and 5 sepals. A few species have 4 to 7 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.

Species classification

Formerly placed here

[11]

Chemical constituents

Notes

  1. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  2. ^ RHS A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136.  
  3. ^ Jepson, W. L. A Manual of the Flowering Plants of California.
  4. ^ Strewe, L. Ethnobotany of gentians. Gentian Research Network.
  5. ^ Orchant, R. Moxie: The distinctively different soda that New England loves. The Huffington Post. March 1, 2013.
  6. ^ Quinquina & Americano by Brand. Vermouth 101.
  7. ^ Gentian. WebMD, LLC.
  8. ^ D. S. Vohra (1 June 2004). Bach Flower Remedies: A Comprehensive Study. B. Jain Publishers. p. 3.  
  9. ^ "Flower remedies".  
  10. ^ Vogl, S; Picker, P; Mihaly-Bison, J; Fakhrudin, N; Atanasov, A. G.; Heiss, E. H.; Wawrosch, C; Reznicek, G; Dirsch, V. M.; Saukel, J; Kopp, B (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.  
  11. ^ "The Plant List: A working list of all plant species". 

References

  • Struwe, L. and V. A. Albert, Eds. Gentianaceae. Cambridge University Press. 2002. ISBN 0-521-80999-1
  • Gentian Research Network.

External links

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