Common name is Gentian. Gentiana is the Greek name for this plant, and was first used about 50-100 AD. It was thought to be named after Gentius, King of Illyria (present-day Albania), who was the first to use this plant for medical purposes. The tall gentians used for cut flowers are mostly the Gentiana makinoi cultivar.
Flowers are trumpet-shaped or star shaped, blue or purple. Most of the 350 species gentians are small, short plants including many alpines. The tall varieties used for cutting are principally Gentiana makinoi from Japan especially “Royal Blue” or Gentiana triflora variety “Japonica”.
Gentians are known to people from North America and Europe as pretty, deep-blue flowers that are found in the Alps and Rocky Mountains. However, gentians occur on all continents except the Antarctic, and grow in a wide variety of habitats, from deserts, savannas, prairies, rainforests and temperate forests to the tundra.
Gentians have been used since ancient times as herbal remedies, and taste very bitter. In Africa gentians are used against malaria, in South America against snake bites, in Europe and Asia as digestives, and in Southeast Asia one species is harvested for its rot-resistant timber. Gentians are also included in perfumes, weight-loss products, skin care products, and homeopathic remedies. In the Alps of Europe, one gentian species is the symbolic flower together with the Edelweiss, and it is found on many souvenirs and art work.
Gentians are also considered special in the Japanese and Pacific culture where the “Ashiro No-Aki Gentians” has a deep royal blue with superior bloom form, color and consistency. The smallness of the leaf, the bigger bloom, and the distance between the internodes means that the blooms can be seen more easily. The bloom itself is of a noticeably richer blue. In Japan Ashiro Gentian is used in Ikebana arrangements, funeral decorations, and general bouquets.
Gentianas make a wonderful addition to any bouquet and are ideal for hand held arrangements.
The cut flowers do not seem to open completely but remain as fat elongated buds, making a dramatic display in any arrangement of cut flowers.