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a genus of perennial (more rarely, annual) herbs and undershrubs of the family Gentianaceae. The leaves are opposite and sessile, the flowers pentamerous (less frequently, tetramerous) with a sympetalous corolla; they are dark blue or light blue, or less frequently, yellow.
There are approximately 400 species of Gentiana growing all over the world, but they are found principally in the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere; many are characteristic of alpine and subalpine meadows. In the USSR there are more than 90 species. Two species found widely in the meadows, clearings, and copses of the European part of the USSR, the Caucasus, and Western Siberia are the marsh gentian (G. pneumonanthe) and the cruciate gentian (G. cruciata). G. olivieri is found in the more or less arid and desert regions of the Caucasus and Middle Asia. In the USSR the yellow gentian G. lutea grows in subalpine meadows of the Carpathians; it is of some medicinal importance. Gentiana are used also in the production of liqueurs and they are often grown as ornamentals.
REFERENCESAtlas lekarstvennykh rastenii SSSR. Moscow, 1962.
Wilkie, D. Gentians. London, 1950.
T. V. EGOROVA