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Information in other languages:

   

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This page is maintained 
by Dr. Lena Struwe 
(e-mail), and hosted by
Rutgers University
, USA

Credits

updated: 01/19/11 

Ethnobotany of gentians:
how we use them
Potalia

Gentians are used by humans worldwide for a variety of purposes.  Their beauty has inspired authors, poets, artists, and gardeners for centuries.  Gentians also provide medicines, timber, and other useful products.

Gentians contain a unique combination of the phytochemicals seco-iridoids and xanthones.  The seco-iridoids are bitter, and a gentian is the source of the most bitter compound known.  No gentians are very poisonous, but due to their bitterness they are seldom eaten by animals.

The stemless gentian (Gentiana acaulis) is well-known as one of the flowers symbolizing the Alps, and its deep-blue, large trumpet-shaped flowers are commonly found adoring items from Switzerland, Austria, and Germany.  Other gentians that are often used in artwork and as decoration are other species of gentians (Gentiana), centauries (Centaurium), fringed gentians (Gentianopsis), pua kenikeni (Fagraea), Persian violet (Exacum), and prairie gentian or lisianthus (Eustoma).

Common names of gentians

Medicines: anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, digestives, for fevers

        Products containing gentians

        Gentian species with medicinal properties

 

Beverages: aperitifs, sodas, and digestives

 

Fragrance and skincare: Perfumes, cleaning lotions

 

Art: folk art, design, inspiration; stamps, coins, souvenirs, postcards, gentian comics

 

Literature and poetry, folklore:

 

Horticulture and floriculture: garden plants, cut flowers, and potted plants

 

Timber, wood: construction, rot-resistant (Fagraea)

 

Geographic places, companies, and other things named after gentians

 

Gentians as official symbols/logos or flowers for places or organizations

 

Lena Struwe, 2004

Note:  The GENTIAN RESEARCH NETWORK do not endorse or encourage the use of gentians or gentian-derived products for any medicinal purposes or as a cure for specific diseases and ailments.  The information is listed here for educational purposes only. The health value and safety of any of these plants and products has not been evaluated by us and we do not recommend any of them for medicinal use.
 

Gentian Research Network, 2002-2011.
For corrections and additions, contact Lena Struwe at struwe@aesop.rutgers.edu