Gentiana lutea. N.O. Gentianaceae.
Habitat ► Grows abundantly throughout France, Spain, and large areas of Central
Part used ► Large quantities of Gentiana lutea root are imported into this country as it is preferred to the English variety (Gentiana campestris—see below) for no very apparent therapeutic reason. It is certain, however, that Gentian root, of whichever kind, is the most popular of all herbal tonics and stomachics—and deservedly so.
Features ► Gentiana lutea root is cylindrical in form, half to one inch thick, and ringed in the upper portion, the lower being longitudinally wrinkled. It is flexible and tough, internally spongy and nearly white when fresh, an orange-brown tint and strong distinctive odour developing during drying. The taste is extremely bitter.
A decoction of 1 ounce to 1 pint (reduced from 1 1/2 pints) of water, given in wineglass doses, will be found very helpful in dyspepsia and loss of tone, or general debility of the digestive organs. One of the effects of the medicine is to stimulate the nerve-endings of taste, thus increasing the flow of gastric juice. As a simple bitter it may be given in all cases when a tonic is needed.
The English Gentian (also known locally as Baldmoney and Felwort) grows to six inches high and is branched above. Leaves opposite, ovate- lanceolate above and ovate-spatulate below, entire margins. Flowers are bluish-purple. The whole herb may be used for the same purposes as the foreign root, although here also the root contains the more active principles.