Field Gentian - Wildflowers of The Western Isles
This plant has lovely purple compact flowers. Field Gentiana bloom here on The Isle of Lewis from Julyt until the autumn. The flowers are usually violet - however occasionally they are white or yellowish white flowers.
Field gentians declined heavily before 1930's and even today sites are still being lost, so it is nice to see them showing their faces here in The Western Isles. I have seen the field gentians in several different areas of the Islands, the one above was seen in Flodobay, Harris, July 2011, I have also seen one along the Old Coffin Road, Seilabost, Harris, whilst I have seen others in Bosta , The Isle of Lewis.
The flowers always have four petals and sepals. The flowers only open totally when there is bright sunlight.
The flowers are usually a bluish-purple - violet colour - occasionally they can be pale or white or yellowy. The fruit is a capsule.
This plant likes damp grassland or dunes and thrives particularly near the sea. The roots are small, but penetrate some distance into the soil
The Field Gentian is usually a biennial - although occasionally an annual.
The Field Gentian is protected by law
Name Gentian Derived From a King
The name - gentian is derived from Gentius, an ancient King of Illyria (180-167 B.C.), who, according to Pliny and Dioscorides, discovered many medicinal uses for the plant.
Antidote to Poison
One of the medicinal uses was that it was used as an antidote to poison
Fresh Gentian root is used in Germany and Switzerland in the production of an alcoholic beverage. The roots are cut, macerated with water, fermented and distilled. The resulting liquid gives it a characteristic odour and taste.