Yellow gentian

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Yellow gentian
Yellow gentian (Gentiana lutea)

Yellow gentian ( Gentiana lutea )

Euasterids I
Order : Enzianartige (Gentianales)
Family : Gentian Family (Gentianaceae)
Tribe : Gentianeae
Genre : Gentians ( Gentiana )
Type : Yellow gentian
Scientific name
Gentiana lutea

The yellow gentian ( Gentiana lutea ) is a plant of the genus gentians ( Gentiana ) within the family of Gentianaceae (Gentianaceae). It is widespread in the mountains of Europe and Turkey.


Crossed leaves and inflorescence before elongation and opening
Detail of an inflorescence
Infructescence - herbarium evidence
Gentiana lutea - Koehler's medicinal plants . A. Basal leaf, natural Size; B. Upper part of a flowering stem; 1. Flower bud, somewhat enlarged; 2nd flower in longitudinal section, enlarged; 3. stamens; 4. stamp; 5. Ovary in cross section; 6. cracked fruit, natural Size; 7. seeds, natural Size and enlarged; 8. the same in longitudinal section, enlarged.
Drug gentian root

Vegetative characteristics

The yellow gentian is a gray-green, strong, perennial herbaceous plant that reaches heights of 50 to 150 centimeters. This rhizome geophyte blooms for the first time at the age of ten, but can be 40 to 60 years old. A strong rhizome , up to the thickness of an forearm, is formed as a permanent organ . The main root on older plants is up to 1 meter in length and 3 to 5 centimeters in diameter. The aboveground parts of the plant are slightly glossy due to hairs ( trichomes ).

Initially, a basal leaf rosette is formed. The cross-opposite arranged leaves are simple, up to 30 centimeters long, up to 15 centimeters wide, sessile in the upper area and short-stalked in the lower area. The leaf blades are ovate to elliptical with five to seven strong, arched nerves.

Generative characteristics

In the axils of the bracts there are three to thirteen flowers in trugdoldigen partial inflorescences . The flower stalk is relatively long. The hermaphrodite flowers are five-fold with a double flower envelope . Compared to other gentian species, the flowers are very simple. The five membranous sepals are pale yellow. The five petals are only fused at their base and are golden yellow. The stamens are almost as long as the petals, with large anthers . On the upper ovary is a short stylus that ends in a two-part stigma .

The stiff fruit stands, up to a good 1.3 meters high, with up to 150 upward-pointing two-column fruit capsules in up to 6 "floors", often protrude above the snow cover as winter dwellers.

The almost 6 centimeters long, columnar, wind-scattering capsule fruit contains up to 100 brownish, flattened, elliptical to round, narrow-skinned winged seeds . The narrow wings surround the seed median. The seeds are about 0.5 mm thick, about 3–4 mm long and 2.5–3 mm wide (with wings), the wings are only about 0.5 mm wide. The winged seeds spread out as gliding and adhesive . Each fruiting shoot on a plant produces around 10,000 seeds. Fruit ripens from September to October. The seeds are light and cold germs . The thousand-grain mass is approx. 1.0-1.3 grams.

Chromosome number

The number of chromosomes is 2n = 40. The subspecies Gentiana lutea subsp. lutea and subsp. symphyandra have the chromosome number 2n = 40.

Possibility of confusion

Not flowering, the yellow gentian can easily be confused with the very poisonous white Germer , whose gray-green leaves, which are also bow-veined, are not opposite to one another, but are arranged alternately or helically (three lines).


The yellow gentian is a geophyte or a hemicryptophyte . The fused leaf sheaths form “cisterns” filled with water after rainfall. The persistent, fleshy, thickened storage root can be up to 60 years old and then be as thick as an arm and meter long.

The flowers are yellow due to carotenoids . In terms of flower ecology, it is a matter of "nectar-bearing disc flowers". The nectar is offered openly. Cross-pollination occurs by various insects , e.g. B. by flies , wasps and bumblebees . Also, self-pollination is possible. The flowering maturity of a specimen is only reached from about the 10th year. The flowering period extends from June to August, depending on the altitude.


The yellow gentian is widespread in the Alps and other mountains in Central and Southern Europe. There are localities for Portugal , Spain, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia , Serbia , Croatia, Bulgaria , Romania, Albania , Greece, Turkey, the Republic of Moldova and the Ukraine . In Germany, for example, it occurs in the Black Forest on the Feldberg and the Hohen Randen , but is particularly widespread in the Swabian Alb .

The yellow gentian was considered to be chalk-loving, but also grows on crystalline rock (Black Forest) and prefers willow, block and karflure from the valley to at altitudes of 2500 meters, which are at least temporarily moist and loose. It occurs in Central Europe at higher altitudes in societies of the association Nardion , the Calamagrostion-arundinaceae association, also in the association Erico-Pinion and in the order of the Seslerietalia albicantis . At low altitudes it can be found in societies of the Mesobromion and Geranion sanguinei associations . In the Allgäu Alps , it rises in the Tyrolean part between Jöchelspitze and Mutte at altitudes of up to 2100 meters.

Gentiana lutea is currently still protected by the Federal Species Protection Ordinance, Annex 1 . Wild populations are protected (footnote 8 of the annex). However, due to its abundant production of easily blown seeds on pastureland, it can also develop into a plague, because livestock avoid it.


The first publication of Gentiana lutea was in 1753 by Carl von Linné . A synonym of Gentiana lutea L. is Gentiana lutea subsp. aurantiaca M. Laínz

Of Gentiana lutea , there are about four subspecies:

  • Gentiana lutea L. subsp. lutea : In the Alps it finds its optimum in the societies of the Seslerion variae association.
  • Gentiana lutea subsp. montserratii (Greuter) AMRomo I Diez (Syn .: Gentiana montserratii Greuter , Gentiana lutea subsp. montserratii O.Bolòs & Vigo ): It occurs only in Spain.
  • Gentiana lutea subsp. symphyandra (Murb.) Hayek (Syn .: Gentiana lutea var. symphyandra Murb. , Gentiana symphyandra Murb. ): It occurs in Italy, Austria, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Bulgaria, the former Yugoslavia and Turkey. It finds its optimum in the Alps in societies of the class Elyno-Seslerietea variae.
  • Gentiana lutea subsp. vardjanii Wraber : It occurs in Austria and Slovenia. It finds its optimum in the Alps in societies of the class Elyno-Seslerietea variae.


The dried and crushed subterranean plant parts serve as the drug, gentian root, gentianae radix . They are rich in sugars (e.g. gentiobiosis ) and bitter substances ( gentianopicrin and amarogentin ). The bitter substances actually serve as protection against animal damage. Medicinally , the drug is used as a bitter agent , e.g. B. used as appetizing bitters , aperitif and for schnapps (e.g. gentian and suze ). The yellow gentian is also used as an antipyretic; however, the effectiveness against fever could not be proven. A bitter and digestive tonic is obtained. It is used against tiredness, underweight, anemia and poor appetite during convalescence. In folk medicine it is used against fever , gout , hypochondria , malaria and intestinal parasites .

Gentiana lutea is primarily used and specifically cultivated for the production of gentian schnapps , less often the other tall species, for example Gentiana punctata , as it has the highest bitter content of all gentian species. An extract tastes clearly bitter even in an aqueous dilution of approx. 1: 20,000.


On October 15, 1975, as part of the annual welfare stamps issued by the Deutsche Bundespost, a picture of the yellow gentian appeared as a motif ( Michel no. 510), with the lowest flower on the right showing a 6-digit crown in artistic freedom or by mistake.



Historical illustrations


Individual evidence

  1. Bertalan Galambosi, ZS Galambosi: Seedling quality and seed yield of Gentiana lutea L. In: Acta Hortic. 860, 2010, pp. 255-258, doi : 10.17660 / ActaHortic.2010.860.38 .
  2. Tatyana Nikolaevna Kataeva et al. a .: Seed Morphology of Some Species in the Family Gentianaceae. In: Biosci. Biotechnol. Res. Asia. 12 (3), 2015, doi : 10.13005 / bbra / 1902 .
  3. Vít Bojnanský, Agáta Fargašová: Atlas of Seeds and Fruits of Central and East-European flora. Springer, 2007, ISBN 978-1-4020-5362-7 , p. 531.
  4. a b c Erich Oberdorfer : Plant-sociological excursion flora for Germany and neighboring areas . With the collaboration of Angelika Schwabe and Theo Müller. 8th, heavily revised and expanded edition. Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart (Hohenheim) 2001, ISBN 3-8001-3131-5 , pp.  755 .
  5. ^ Gentiana lutea at In: IPCN Chromosome Reports . Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis
  6. ^ A b Gentiana lutea in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), USDA , ARS , National Genetic Resources Program. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. Retrieved January 23, 2016.
  7. Erhard Dörr, Wolfgang Lippert : Flora of the Allgäu and its surroundings. Volume 2, IHW, Eching 2004, ISBN 3-930167-61-1 , p. 331.
  8. ^ No plant worth protecting In: Badische-Zeitung. 3rd August 2019.
  9. a b c d e Karol Marhold: Gentianaceae. 2011: Datasheet Gentiana lutea In: Euro + Med Plantbase - the information resource for Euro-Mediterranean plant diversity .
  10. a b c David Aeschimann, Konrad Lauber, Daniel Martin Moser, Jean-Paul Theurillat: Flora alpina. Volume 2, page 10. Bern, Stuttgart, Vienna Haupt-Verlag, 2004, ISBN 3-258-06600-0 .
  11. ( Gentiana lutea ) Yellow gentian as a medicinal plant at
  12. ESCOP
  13. Medicinal plants, further references
  14. Rudolf Hänsel, Otto Sticher: Pharmakognosie - Phytopharmazie. 9th edition, Springer, 2010, ISBN 978-3-642-00962-4 , p. 761.
  15. Pedanios Dioscurides . 1st century: De Medicinali Materia libri quinque. Translation. Julius Berendes . Pedanius Dioscurides' medicine theory in 5 books. Enke, Stuttgart 1902, p. 262 (Book III, Chapter 3): Gentian (digitized version )
  16. Pliny the Elder , 1st century: Naturalis historia Book XXV, Chapter xxxiv (§ 71): Gentiana (digitized) ; Translation Külb 1855 (digitized version )
  17. Galen , 2nd century De simplicium medicamentorum temperamentis ac facultatibus , Book VI, Chapter III / 2 (based on the Kühn 1826 edition, Volume XI, p. 856): Gentiana (digitized version)
  18. ^ First printing: Rome 1481 (digitized version )
  19. Avicenna , 11th century: Canon of Medicine . Translation and adaptation by Gerhard von Cremona , Arnaldus de Villanova and Andrea Alpago (1450–1521). Basel 1556, Volume II, Chapter 288: Gentiana (digitized version)
  20. Constantine the African , 11th century: Liber de gradibus simplicium . Pressure. Opera . Basel 1536, p. 367: Gentiana (digitized version)
  21. Circa instans 12th century print. Venice 1497, sheet 199r: Gentiana (digitized)
  22. ^ Pseudo-Serapion 13th century, print. Venice 1497, sheet 133r (No CCLXIII): Gentiana (digitized)
  23. ^ German Macer . After: Bernhard Schnell, William Crossgrove: The German Macer. Vulgate version. Niemeyer, Tübingen 2003, p. 367 (Chapter 63). Cpg 226 , Alsace, 1459–1469, sheet 201r (digital copy ) Transcription: (.lxj. Enciana is called encian / It is hot and print on the dryten grade (and helps use the spleen and the livers whether they are milwetted nuczt in water with boiled honey (where the nater stabbed encian as a plaster leyed she helps (so she uses the wip asks jr seeks (Gemilwet vnd ​​with warm water vnd jn the secret stat with eym pessario drifting brings the other birth //
  24. ^ Charles Victor Daremberg and Friedrich Anton Reuss (1810–1868). S. Hildegardis Abbatissae Subtilitatum Diversarum Naturarum Creaturarum Libri Novem. Physica , Book I, Chapter 31: Gentiana . Migne, Paris 1855. Sp. 1142 (digitized version ) - Translation: Herbert Reier: Hildegard von Bingen Physica. Translated into German after the text edition by JP Migne, Paris 1882. Kiel 1980, p. 38: The Gentiana is sufficiently warm. But whoever suffers from heartache as if his heart is almost standing still, pulverize gentian and eat the powder in suffen, and his heart will be strengthened. Whoever has it in his stomach will often drink the same powder in warm wine, heated in a hot iron vessel, and his stomach will be cleared of the fever .
  25. Innsbrucker (Prüler) Kreuterbuch , 12th century: Genciana . Friedrich Wilhelm (Ed.): Monuments of German prose of the 11th and 12th centuries . Munich 1914/16. Department A: Text, p. 42; Section B: Commentary, p. 108. Text and translation: Genciana unte diu hemere gesoteniu with ezzich. iſt gt the raging. - Yellow gentian and "hemere" boiled with vinegar is good for the mad .
  26. Nikolaus Frauenlob 15th century - Cpg 583 , Süd-West-Deutschland (Mattighofen), 1482–1486, sheet 24v (digitized version ) . Transcription ( rubricated places in bold ): Encian who has iiij tugent guet vnd ​​krfftig Whether the man is powerful seÿ ader vnsynnig Man sal enczian with essich ze bump with rawtten sam ader jn esich sÿeden and drink from it that makes man against synnig Who is poisoned it sey piss vein hit Man salt enczian root with wine whale zestössen vnd so drink warm that helps against the poisonous sting vein sting Or piss dÿe then ain poisonous animal piss vein has stung Item to whom the stÿm smoke vein tünper is Man salt enczian in water whale boil vnd sal darab drincken that makes thÿ stÿm bright vnd ​​clear Who will help the stomach with erczneÿ Man drink salt enczian with water that helps the stomach zuo dewen A common ler from entzian Man salt entzian when one wil ader drink it from the harm kainen things vnd frumbt also geesen entzian is good for dÿ tempfikait - Cpg 666 , Kurpfalz, 1478–1480, sheet 106v – 107r (digital copy ) . Transcription: E ncian hat v tuget vnd ​​is good a Whether man has a proper vein his synne nit Man sal Enczian to poke with vinegar with diamonds sam vein jn vinegar syden vnd dor abe drunk daz makes man against synnig b Whoever offends jst it seÿ pissed vein stung Man sal enczian wrcz with wine whale to stoz vnd so drink warm daz helps do for c Who dy stÿme smoke is Man sal Enczian jn water whale syden vnd dor von drincken daz helps d Who help the stomach wil Man sal Enczian with water divertising daz hilfft the stomach Dewen vnd makes jn fresh e A gemeyne sized Enczian of herb vnd wrcz Man sal Enczian wan nüczen you wil vein dor abe divertising daz shady hire not sunder it frumet alwegen
  27. Herbarius Moguntinus , Mainz 1484, Part I, Chapter 68: Genciana (digitized version ) ; Part II, Chapter 19: Gentiana (digitized
  28. Gart der Gesundheit . Mainz 1485, chapter 199: Genciana. Encian (digitized version )
  29. Hortus sanitatis 1491, Mainz 1491, Part I, Chapter 217: Genciana (digitized version )
  30. Hieronymus Brunschwig : Small distilling book , Strasbourg 1500, sheet 47r: Encian (digitized version )
  31. ^ Otto Brunfels : Ander Teyl des Teütschen Contrafayten Kreüterbůchs . Johann Schott, Strasbourg 1537, p. 115: Encian (digitized version )
  32. Hieronymus Bock : New Kreütter Bůch . Wendel Rihel, Strasbourg 1539, Part I, Chapter 56: Entian (digitized version )
  33. Leonhart Fuchs : New Kreütterbuch… Michael Isingrin, Basel 1543, Chapter 74: Entzian (digitized version )
  34. ^ Pietro Andrea Mattioli : Commentarii, in libros sex Pedacii Dioscoridis Anazarbei, de medica materia. Translation by Georg Handsch, edited by Joachim Camerarius the Younger , Johan Feyerabend, Franckfurt am Mayn 1586, sheet 214v – 216r: Encian. Bitter root (digitized version )
  35. Nicolas Lémery  : Dictionnaire universel des drogues simples. , Paris 1699, pp. 322-323: Gentiana (digitized) ; Translation. Complete material lexicon. Initially drafted in French, but now after the third edition, which has been enlarged by a large [...] edition, translated into high German / By Christoph Friedrich Richtern, [...]. Leipzig: Johann Friedrich Braun, 1721, Sp. 488–489: Gentiana (digitized)
  36. Albrecht von Haller (editor): Onomatologia medica completa or Medicinisches Lexicon which explains all names and artificial words which are peculiar to the science of medicine and the art of pharmacy clearly and completely [...]. Gaumische Handlung, Ulm / Frankfurt am Main / Leipzig 1755, Sp. 699: Gentiana maior (digitized version )
  37. ^ William Cullen : A treatise of the materia medica. Charles Elliot, Edinburgh 1789. Volume II, pp. 72-73: Gentian (digitized) . German. Samuel Hahnemann . Schwickert, Leipzig 1790. Volume II, pp. 85–87: Gentian root (digitized version )
  38. ^ Jean-Louis Alibert : Nouveaux éléments de thérapeutique et de matière médicale. Crapart, Paris Volume I 1803, pp. 131-134: Gentiana. Radix Gentianae rubrae (digitized version )
  39. August Friedrich Hecker 's practical medicine theory. Revised and enriched with the latest discoveries by a practicing doctor . Camesius, Vienna, Volume I 1814, p. 208: Radix Gentianae (digitized version )
  40. ^ François Magendie : Formulaire pour la preparation et l'emploi de plusieurs nouveaux médicamens. Tels que la noix vomique, la morphine, l'acide prussique, la strychnine, la vératine, les alcalis des quinquinas, l'iode, etc., etc., etc. by F. Magendie, Membre de l'Académie royale de médecine, Médecin du Bureau central d'administration aux hôpitaux et hospices de Paris, etc., etc. Paris: Méquignon-Marvis 1821, pp. 63–67: Gentianin (digitized version )
  41. Jonathan Pereira’s Handbook of Medicines Doctrine. From the point of view of the German Medicin edited by Rudolf Buchheim . Leopold Voss, Leipzig 1846-48, Volume II 1848, pp. 349-353: Gentiana lutea. Yellow gentian (digitized version)
  42. August Husemann / Theodor Husemann : The plant substances in chemical, physiological, pharmacological and toxicological terms. For doctors, pharmacists, chemists and pharmacologists. Springer, Berlin 1871, pp. 873-875: Gentian acid. Gentian. Gentisin (digitized) ; Pp. 875–876: Gentiopicrin (digitized version )
  43. ^ Robert Bentley , Henry Trimen : Medicinal plants. J. & A. Churchill, London 1880, Volume III, No 182: Gentiana lutea (digitized version)
  44. ^ Theodor Husemann : Handbook of the entire drug theory. Springer, Berlin 2nd ed. 1883, pp. 645–646: Radix Gentianae (digitized version )

Web links

Commons : Gelber Enzian ( Gentiana lutea )  - album with pictures, videos and audio files