One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A plant of temperate and mountainous regions, typically with violet or vivid blue trumpet-shaped flowers. Many kinds are cultivated as ornamentals, especially as arctic alpines, and some are of medicinal use.
Genera Gentiana and Gentianella, family Gentianaceae: numerous species, including the four-petaled fringed gentian (Gentiana crinita) of North America
- ‘It's a surprisingly verdant mountain - spared by the last glaciation - where rhododendrons, gentians and rare orchids bloom.’
- ‘Traditionally, gentians require a peat-based compost but Ian uses a ‘greener’ alternative.’
- ‘As we climb, the maze of trees, ferns, and blueberry bushes gives way to subalpine meadows painted with purple lupine, pale blue gentians, crimson columbine, and yellow arnica.’
- ‘In summer, the meadow is in full bloom; in fall, asters and gentians shine, and the trees put on quite a display.’
- ‘While bamboo stalks and roots make up about 95 percent of its diet, the giant panda also feeds on gentians, irises, crocuses, fish, and occasionally small rodents.’
- 1.1 A tonic liquor formerly extracted from the root of the gentian.
- ‘In Western herbal medicine barberry root and gentian are used as bitter tonics to aid digestion.’
Late Middle English: from Latin gentiana, according to Pliny named after Gentius, king of Illyria, who is said to have discovered the medicinal properties of a common species.
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