/jen"sheuhn/, n.
1. any of several plants of the genera Gentiana, Gentianella, and Gentianopsis, having usually blue, or sometimes yellow, white, or red, flowers, as the fringed gentian of North America, or Gentiana lutea, of Europe. Cf. gentian family.
2. any of various plants resembling the gentian.
3. the root of G. lutea, or a preparation of it, used as a tonic.
[1350-1400; ME gencian < L gentiana; said to be named after Gentius, an Illyrian king]

* * *

 (genus Gentiana), any of about 400 species of annual or perennial (rarely biennial) flowering plants of the family Gentianaceae distributed worldwide in temperate and alpine regions, especially in Europe and Asia, North and South America, and New Zealand. They are especially a notable feature of mountain regions, where the moisture-loving plants have access to underground water in summer and snow cover in winter. Gentian flowers are typically blue (hence “gentian blue”) or purplish blue but may be purple, violet, mauve, yellow, white, or even red; the four or five petals are usually united into a trumpet, funnel, or bell shape. The flowers have been used in the making of dyes, especially Gentiana pneumonanthe, a source of blue dye. The tough fibrous roots were once used herbally for putative alimentary cures, and the name gentian derives from Gentius, king of ancient Illyria and alleged discoverer of the plant's medicinal value. Gentiana lutea, the yellow gentian, is found in Europe and western Asia and is the source of a flavouring in liqueurs.

      Other species, such as the fringed gentians, formerly included in Gentiana, are now referred to as Gentianella (about 125 species) and Gentianopsis (about 15 species). The gentian family, Gentianaceae, includes 87 genera and nearly 1,700 species.

* * *

Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Gentian — Gen tian (j[e^]n shan or j[e^]n sh[i^]*an), n. [OE. genciane, F. gentiane, L. gentiana, fr. Gentius, an Illyrian king, said to have discovered its properties.] (Bot.) Any one of a genus ({Gentiana}) of herbaceous plants with opposite leaves and a …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • gentian — [jen′shən] adj. [ME genciane < OFr gentiane < L gentiana, of Illyrian orig.] designating a family (Gentianaceae, order Gentianales) of dicotyledonous plants, including the fringed gentians and the closed gentians n. 1. any of a large genus… …   English World dictionary

  • gentian — late 14c., genciane, from O.Fr. genciane and directly from L. gentiana, said by Pliny to be named for Gentius, king of ancient Illyria who discovered its properties. This likely is a folk etymology, but the word may be Illyrian nonetheless, since …   Etymology dictionary

  • gentian — ► NOUN ▪ a plant of temperate and mountainous regions with violet or blue trumpet shaped flowers. ORIGIN allegedly named after Gentius, king of Illyria, who discovered the plant s medicinal properties …   English terms dictionary

  • Gentian — Taxobox name = Gentian image width = 250px image caption = Gentiana verna regnum = Plantae divisio = Magnoliophyta classis = Magnoliopsida ordo = Gentianales familia = Gentianaceae genus = Gentiana L. subdivision ranks = Species subdivision = See …   Wikipedia

  • gentian — gen·tian jen chən n 1) any of two genera (Gentiana and Dasystephana) of herbs belonging to a family (Gentianaceae, the gentian family) and having opposite smooth leaves and showy usu. blue flowers 2) the rhizome and roots of a yellow flowered… …   Medical dictionary

  • gentian — n. 1 any plant of the genus Gentiana or Gentianella, found esp. in mountainous regions, and having usu. vivid blue flowers. 2 (in full gentian bitter) a liquor extracted from the root of the gentian. Phrases and idioms: gentian violet a violet… …   Useful english dictionary

  • gentian — noun Etymology: Middle English gencian, from Anglo French genciane, from Latin gentiana Date: 14th century 1. any of numerous herbs (family Gentianaceae, the gentian family, and especially genus Gentiana) with opposite smooth leaves and showy… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • gentian — UK [ˈdʒenʃən] / US noun [countable] Word forms gentian : singular gentian plural gentians a plant with small dark blue flowers that grows in the mountains of western Europe …   English dictionary

  • gentian — gen•tian [[t]ˈdʒɛn ʃən[/t]] n. 1) pln any plant of the gentian family, esp. the genus Gentiana, having usu. blue but sometimes yellow, white, or red flowers 2) pln the root of a European species of gentian, G. lutea, used as a tonic • Etymology:… …   From formal English to slang