The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Gentian
GENTIAN, a genus, Gentiana, of plants of the family Gentianaceæ. More than 300 species are known, distributed throughout the temperate and mountainous regions of the world. Most of the species have blue flowers and many are celebrated for their beauty. In eastern North America the best known species are the fringed gentian, G. crinita, soapwort gentian, G. saponaria, and G. andrewsii, closed gentian, but many other species occur, scattered nearly throughout the continent.
In pharmacy gentian is the dried rhizome and root of Gentiana lutea. This is the yellow gentian of Europe, a tall mountain perennial, growing abundantly in southern and middle Europe and Asia Minor. The chief sources of supply to the drug market are Switzerland, southern France, and the hilly portions of Germany. The main constituent of the root is a bitter glycoside, gentiopicrin. It also contains sugar, gums, and salts. The action of gentian is that of a simple bitter and it is used to improve the appetite and thus secondarily affect the general constitution.