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Gentiana lutea

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Gentiana lutea, the great yellow gentian, is a species of gentian native to the mountains of central and southern Europe. Other names include 'yellow gentian', 'bitter root', 'bitterwort', 'centiyane' and 'genciana'.Template:Citation needed


Gentiana lutea is an herbaceous perennial plant, growing to Template:Convert tall, with broad lanceolate to elliptic leaves Template:Convert long and Template:Convert 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.


Gentiana lutea is remarkable for the intense bitterness of the root and every part of the herbage. Before the introduction of hops, gentian was used occasionally in brewing.

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 Template:Convert 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 endangeredTemplate:Citation needed, and the closely related Centaurium erythraea shares many of its constituents and actionsTemplate:Citation needed.

The name is a tribute to Gentius, an Illyrian king who was thought<ref>A manual of the flowering plants of California by Willis Linn Jepson</ref> to have found out that the herb had tonic properties.

In veterinary pharmacopeia in the 1860s, gentian root or gentian radix was considered useful as a tonic and stomachic.<ref>page 126 of Template:Citation 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</ref>

Extracts of gentian root can be found in the American soft drink Moxie, and its unique flavor is attributed to that fact. It is also used in France to produce a Limousin specialty liqueur and aperitif, with plants gathered from the Auvergne area.

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 Gentiana lutea is depicted on the reverse of the Albanian 2000 lekë banknote, issued in 2008. The note depicts king Gentius on its obverse.<ref>Bank of Albania. Currency: Banknotes in circulation Template:Webarchive. – Retrieved on 23 March 2009.</ref>

Chemical constituents

File:Amarogentin gentiopicrin.png
Amarogentin and gentiopicrin, the bitter glycosides from gentian root

The bitter principles of gentian root are secoiridoid glycosides amarogentin and gentiopicrin. The former is one of the most bitter natural compounds known<ref>Heilpflanzen:Gentiana lutea (German)</ref> and is used as a scientific basis for measuring bitterness.



External links