The New International Encyclopædia/Gentianaceæ

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GENTIANACEÆ, jen′shan-ā′sē̇-ē (Neo-Lat. nom. pl., from Lat. gentiana, gentian), the gentian family. An order of dicotyledonous plants, most of which are herbaceous, though a few are small shrubs. Many of the herbaceous species are perennial from a rhizome. The leaves are, for the most part, opposite, and without stipules. The inflorescence is some form of cyme, and the flowers are usually regular. The calyx is 5, sometimes 4, 6, 8, or 10 parted. The corolla, which is hypogynous, has the same number of lobes as the calyx. The stamens are of the same number as the corolla-lobes and the ovary, which consists of two carpels, and contains numerous small seeds. The family embraces about 60 genera and more than 700 species. Species of this order are found in nearly every part of the globe, and in all sorts of situations. Some are arctic and alpine plants, some are saprophytes, some grow in dry situations, others in marshes, while the species of one genus are aquatic in habit. The flowers of many are of great beauty both as to color and form, and some are cultivated as ornamentals. Medicinal properties are attributed to some. The genera of this order have been variously grouped dependent upon the characters used, one of the latest classifications being based upon pollen characters. The chief genera are: Gentiana, Erythræa, Chlora, Swertia, Menyanthes, Limnanthemum, and Voyria. See Buckbean; Gentian; Centaury.