"Gentian" redirects here. For other uses, see Gentian (disambiguation).
Gentiana verna
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Gentianaceae
Genus: Gentiana

See text.

Gentiana /ˌɛniˈnə/[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]


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.[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 Angostura 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] although studies have shown no efficacy beyond that of a placebo.[8][9][10]

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.[11]


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 very first Shogunate in the aftermath of the Genpei War.



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.

List of accepted species


  • Gentiana acaulis (stemless gentian)
  • Gentiana affinis (pleated gentian)
  • Gentiana alata
  • Gentiana alba (plain gentian)
  • Gentiana albicalyx
  • Gentiana albomarginata
  • Gentiana algida (whitish gentian)
  • Gentiana alii
  • Gentiana alpina (alpine gentian)
  • Gentiana alsinoides
  • Gentiana altigena
  • Gentiana altorum
  • Gentiana amplicrater
  • Gentiana andrewsii (closed bottle gentian)
  • Gentiana angustifolia
  • Gentiana anisostemon
  • Gentiana aperta
  • Gentiana apiata
  • Gentiana aquatica
  • Gentiana arenicola
  • Gentiana arethusae
  • Gentiana argentea
  • Gentiana arisanensis
  • Gentiana aristata
  • Gentiana asclepiadea (willow gentian)
  • Gentiana asterocalyx
  • Gentiana atlantica
  • Gentiana atuntsiensis
  • Gentiana austromontana (Appalachian gentian)
  • Gentiana autumnalis (pinebarren gentian)
  • Gentiana axilliflora
  • Gentiana baeuerlenii
  • Gentiana bambuseti
  • Gentiana bavarica (Bavarian gentian)
  • Gentiana beamanii
  • Gentiana bella
  • Gentiana bicuspidata
  • Gentiana boissieri
  • Gentiana bokorensis
  • Gentiana borneensis
  • Gentiana boryi
  • Gentiana brachyphylla
  • Gentiana bryoides
  • Gentiana burseri
  • Gentiana cachemirica
  • Gentiana caelestis
  • Gentiana caeruleogrisea
  • Gentiana caliculata
  • Gentiana calycosa (Rainier pleated gentian)
  • Gentiana capitata
  • Gentiana carinata
  • Gentiana carinicostata
  • Gentiana caryophyllea
  • Gentiana catesbaei (Elliott's gentian)
  • Gentiana cephalantha
  • Gentiana cephalodes
  • Gentiana chateri
  • Gentiana chinensis
  • Gentiana choanantha
  • Gentiana chosenica
  • Gentiana chungtienensis
  • Gentiana clarkei
  • Gentiana clausa (bottled gentian)
  • Gentiana clusii (trumpet gentian)
  • Gentiana confertifolia
  • Gentiana coronata
  • Gentiana crassa
  • Gentiana crassicaulis
  • Gentiana crassula
  • Gentiana crassuloides
  • Gentiana cristata
  • Gentiana cruciata (cross gentian)
  • Gentiana cruttwellii
  • Gentiana cuneibarba
  • Gentiana dahurica
  • Gentiana damyonensis
  • Gentiana davidii
  • Gentiana decemfida
  • Gentiana decora (showy gentian)
  • Gentiana decorata
  • Gentiana decumbens
  • Gentiana delavayi
  • Gentiana deltoidea
  • Gentiana dendrologii
  • Gentiana densiflora
  • Gentiana depressa
  • Gentiana dinarica
  • Gentiana divaricata
  • Gentiana diversifolia
  • Gentiana douglasiana (swamp gentian)
  • Gentiana doxiongshangensis
  • Gentiana dschungarica
  • Gentiana duclouxii
  • Gentiana durangensis
  • Gentiana ecaudata
  • Gentiana elmeriana
  • Gentiana elwesii
  • Gentiana emodi
  • Gentiana ettingshausenii
  • Gentiana exigua
  • Gentiana expansa
  • Gentiana faucipilosa
  • Gentiana fieldiana
  • Gentiana filistyla
  • Gentiana flavomaculata
  • Gentiana flexicaulis
  • Gentiana formosa
  • Gentiana forrestii
  • Gentiana franchetiana
  • Gentiana fremontii (moss gentian)
  • Gentiana frigida
  • Gentiana froelichii
  • Gentiana futtereri
  • Gentiana gelida
  • Gentiana gentilis
  • Gentiana georgei
  • Gentiana gilvostriata
  • Gentiana glauca (pale gentian)
  • Gentiana grandiflora
  • Gentiana grata
  • Gentiana grumii
  • Gentiana gyirongensis
  • Gentiana handeliana
  • Gentiana haraldi-smithii
  • Gentiana harrowiana
  • Gentiana haynaldii
  • Gentiana heleonastes
  • Gentiana helophila
  • Gentiana hesseliana
  • Gentiana hexaphylla
  • Gentiana himalayensis
  • Gentiana hirsuta
  • Gentiana hohoxiliensis
  • Gentiana hooperi
  • Gentiana hugelii
  • Gentiana huxleyi
  • Gentiana infelix
  • Gentiana intricata
  • Gentiana jamesii
  • Gentiana jarmilae
  • Gentiana jingdongensis
  • Gentiana jouyana
  • Gentiana kaohsiungensis
  • Gentiana kauffmanniana
  • Gentiana khammouanensis
  • Gentiana kurroo
  • Gentiana kwangsiensis
  • Gentiana lacerulata
  • Gentiana laevigata
  • Gentiana langbianensis
  • Gentiana lateriflora
  • Gentiana lawrencii
  • Gentiana laxiflora
  • Gentiana leptoclada
  • Gentiana leroyana
  • Gentiana leucomelaena
  • Gentiana lhassica
  • Gentiana liangshanensis
  • Gentiana licentii
  • Gentiana ligustica
  • Gentiana linearis (narrowleaf gentian)
  • Gentiana lineolata
  • Gentiana linoides
  • Gentiana loerzingii
  • Gentiana longicollis
  • Gentiana loureiroi
  • Gentiana lowryi
  • Gentiana lutea (great yellow gentian)
  • Gentiana lycopodioides
  • Gentiana macrophylla (bigleaf gentian)
  • Gentiana makinoi
  • Gentiana microdonta
  • Gentiana newberryi (Newberry's gentian)
  • Gentiana nipponica
  • Gentiana nivalis (snow gentian)
  • Gentiana nubigena
  • Gentiana nutans (tundra gentian)
  • Gentiana ochroleuca
  • Gentiana olgae
  • Gentiana olivieri
  • Gentiana orbicularis (round leaved gentian)
  • Gentiana ornata
  • Gentiana pannonica (brown gentian)
  • Gentiana paradoxa
  • Gentiana parryi (Parry's gentian)
  • Gentiana pennelliana (wiregrass gentian)
  • Gentiana phyllocalyx
  • Gentiana platypetala (broadpetal gentian)
  • Gentiana plurisetosa (bristly gentian)
  • Gentiana pneumonanthe (marsh gentian)
  • Gentiana prolata
  • Gentiana prostrata (pygmy gentian)
  • Gentiana przewalskii
  • Gentiana pterocalyx
  • Gentiana puberulenta (downy gentian)
  • Gentiana pumila
  • Gentiana punctata (spotted gentian)
  • Gentiana purpurea (purple gentian)
  • Gentiana pyrenaica
  • Gentiana quadrifolia
  • Gentiana rigescens
  • Gentiana rostanii
  • Gentiana rubricaulis (closed gentian)
  • Gentiana saponaria (harvestbells gentian)
  • Gentiana saxosa
  • Gentiana scabra
  • Gentiana scarlatina
  • Gentiana sceptrum (king's scepter gentian)
  • Gentiana sedifolia
  • Gentiana septemfida (crested gentian)
  • Gentiana setigera (Mendocino gentian)
  • Gentiana setulifolia
  • Gentiana sikkimensis
  • Gentiana sikokiana
  • Gentiana sino-ornata (showy Chinese gentian)
  • Gentiana siphonantha
  • Gentiana speciosa
  • Gentiana squarrosa
  • Gentiana stictantha
  • Gentiana stragulata
  • Gentiana straminea
  • Gentiana tenuifolia
  • Gentiana terglouensis (Triglav gentian)
  • Gentiana ternifolia
  • Gentiana tianshanica (Tienshan gentian)
  • Gentiana trichotoma
  • Gentiana triflora
  • Gentiana trinervis
  • Gentiana tubiflora
  • Gentiana uchiyamai
  • Gentiana ulmeri
  • Gentiana uniflora
  • Gentiana urnula
  • Gentiana utriculosa (bladder gentian)
  • Gentiana vandellioides
  • Gentiana vandewateri
  • Gentiana veitchiorum
  • Gentiana venosa
  • Gentiana venusta
  • Gentiana verna (spring gentian)
  • Gentiana vernayi
  • Gentiana viatrix
  • Gentiana villifera
  • Gentiana villosa (striped gentian)
  • Gentiana waltonii
  • Gentiana walujewii
  • Gentiana wangchukii
  • Gentiana wasenensis
  • Gentiana wilsonii
  • Gentiana winchuanensis
  • Gentiana wingecarribiensis
  • Gentiana wootchuliana
  • Gentiana xanthonannos
  • Gentiana yakushimensis
  • Gentiana yokusai
  • Gentiana yunnanensis
  • Gentiana zekuensis
  • Gentiana zollingeri

Formerly placed here


Chemical constituents


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  2. RHS A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 1405332964.
  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. Edzard Ernst (24 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.
  9. 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". J Anxiety Disord. 15 (4): 359–66. doi:10.1016/S0887-6185(01)00069-X. PMID 11474820.
  10. 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): 395–398. doi:10.1016/j.ejpn.2005.08.001. PMID 16257245. 16257245.
  11. 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. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.06.007. PMC 3791396Freely accessible. PMID 23770053.
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