Botanical Name: Gentiana acaulis
Species: G. acaulis
Common Names: Stemless gentian or Trumpet gentian
Habitat: Gentiana acaulis is native to central and southern Europe, from Spain east to the Balkans. It grows on mountainous regions, such as the Alps and Pyrenees, at heights of 800–3,000 m (2,625–9,843 ft).
Gentiana acaulis is a perennial plant, growing ( at a slow rate )up to a height of 10 centimetres (3.9 in) tall and forming a mat up to 50 centimetres (20 in) wide. The leaves, which can be lanceolate, elliptical or obovate, are evergreen, 2–3.5 cm long, in a basal rosette, forming clumps. The trumpet-shaped terminal flowers are blue with olive-green spotted longitudinal throats. They grow on a very short peduncle, 3–6 cm long. The flower stem is often without leaves, or has 1 or 2 pairs of leaves. It likes full sun, is fully hardy and flowers in late spring and summer.It is in flower from June to July. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bumblebees, butterflies.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.
In general, gentians require a moist well-drained soil in a sheltered position, a certain minimum of atmospheric humidity, high light intensity but a site where temperatures are not too high. They are therefore more difficult to grow in areas with hot summers and in such a region they appreciate some protection from the strongest sunlight. Most species will grow well in the rock garden. This is an easily grown species, succeeding in most good garden soils, though it prefers a light loamy soil and lime-free conditions. It grows well in a pocket of soil amongst paving stones, so long as there is a gritty substrate. Plants dislike growing under the drip from trees. A very ornamental plant, there are many named varieties. It is a rare and protected species in the wild. Plants are intolerant of root disturbance.
Through Seeds : 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 10°c 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 -5°c 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.
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 a Gentiana acaulis 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.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.