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Common Name: Marsh Gentian
Gentiana pneumonanthe is a perennial plant that can grow up to 0.30 metres tall.
It has medicinal and miscellaneous uses.
Europe, including Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to Spain, Macedonia, Caucasus and Siberia
Boggy meadows, fens, moist heaths and sandy or peaty clearings in woods[
]. Very local and decreasing in Britain[
In general, gentians require a moist well-drained soil in a sheltered position, a certain minimum of atmospheric humidity, high light intensity but a site where temperatures are not too high[
]. They are therefore more difficult to grow in areas with hot summers and in such a region they appreciate some protection from the strongest sunlight[
]. Most species will grow well in the rock garden[
]. This species is calcifuge and requires a humus-rich lime-free soil[
]. It is not very easy to cultivate and is not very long-lived[
A moisture loving plant, preferring to grow with full exposure to the sun but with plenty of underground moisture in the summer, it grows better in the north and west of Britain[
A very ornamental plant[
Plants are intolerant of root disturbance and should be placed in their final positions as soon as possible[
Although we have no record of medicinal use for this species, like most other members of this genus the root probably contains various bitter compounds and can be used as a general tonic for the digestive system[
]. See G. lutea for more details of potential uses.
A blue dye is obtained from the flowers[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a light position in a cold frame[
]. It requires an acid humus-rich compost and should not be allowed to dry out[
]. The seed can also be sown in late winter or early spring but the seed germinates best if given a period of cold stratification and quickly loses viability when stored, with older seed germinating slowly and erratically[
]. It is advantageous to keep the seed at about 10°c for a few days after sowing, to enable the seed to imbibe moisture[
]. Following this with a period of at least 5 - 6 weeks with temperatures falling to between 0 and -5°c will usually produce reasonable germination[
]. It is best to use clay pots, since plastic ones do not drain so freely and the moister conditions encourage the growth of moss, which will prevent germination of the seed[
]. The seed should be surface-sown, or only covered with a very light dressing of compost. The seed requires dark for germination, so the pots should be covered with something like newspaper or be kept in the dark[
]. Pot up the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow on in light shade in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. The seedlings usually flower in their second year[
]. When the plants are of sufficient size, place them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer.
Division in early spring[
]. Most members of this genus have either a single tap-root, or a compact root system united in a single root head, and are thus unsuitable for division[
Cuttings of basal shoots in late spring[