Herb latin name: Gentiana acaulis


Family: Gentianaceae (Gentian Family)



Medicinal use of Gentiana acaulis:

An infusion of the whole plant is used externally to lighten freckles. This species is one of several species that are the source of the medicinal gentian root, the following notes are based on the general uses of G. lutea which is the most commonly used species in the West. Gentian root has a long history of use as a herbal bitter in the treatment of digestive disorders and is an ingredient of many proprietary medicines. It contains some of the most bitter compounds known and is used as a scientific basis for measuring bitterness. It is especially useful in states of exhaustion from chronic disease and in all cases of debility, weakness of the digestive system and lack of appetite. It is one of the best strengtheners of the human system, stimulating the liver, gall bladder and digestive system, and is an excellent tonic to combine with a purgative in order to prevent its debilitating effects. The root is anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, bitter tonic, cholagogue, emmenagogue, febrifuge, refrigerant, stomachic. It is taken internally in the treatment of liver complaints, indigestion, gastric infections and anorexia. It should not be prescribed for patients with gastric or duodenal ulcers. The root is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use. It is quite likely that the roots of plants that have not flowered are the richest in medicinal properties.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Perennial


Height:
10 cm
(4 inches)

Flovering:
June
to July

Habitat of the herb:

Dry turf and pastures, rubble and scree slopes, occasionally in alpine woods. Usually found in acid soils, though sometimes also found on chalky limestone or sandstone.

Propagation of Gentiana acaulis:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a light position in a cold frame. It can also be sown in late winter or early spring but the seed germinates best if given a period of cold stratification and quickly loses viability when stored, with older seed germinating slowly and erratically. It is advantageous to keep the seed at about 10C for a few days after sowing, to enable the seed to imbibe moisture. Following this with a period of at least 5 - 6 weeks with temperatures falling to between 0 and -5C will usually produce reasonable germination. It is best to use clay pots, since plastic ones do not drain so freely and the moister conditions encourage the growth of moss, which will prevent germination of the seed. The seed should be surface-sown, or only covered with a very light dressing of compost. The seed requires dark for germination, so the pots should be covered with something like newspaper or be kept in the dark. Pot up the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow on in light shade in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. The seedlings grow on very slowly, taking 2 - 7 years to reach flowering size. When the plants are of sufficient size, place them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer. Division in early summer after the plant has flowered. Dig up the entire plant, divide it into 2 - 3 fair-sized clumps with a spade or knife, and replant immediately. Cuttings of basal shoots in late spring or early summer. It is best to pot them up in a cold frame until well rooted, and then plant them out into their permanent positions.

Cultivation of the herb:

Dry turf and pastures, rubble and scree slopes, occasionally in alpine woods. Usually found in acid soils, though sometimes also found on chalky limestone or sandstone.

Known hazards of Gentiana acaulis:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.