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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Tuesday - December 30, 2008

From: Cosby, TN
Region: Southeast
Topic: Medicinal Plants
Title: Occurrence and uses of Bottle Gentian in the Great Smoky Mountains Nat. Park
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

In mid October of 2008 I was at the Gilliland Cemetery in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Cosby, TN. I found several flowers blooming which completely surprised me due to the time of year. I have since learned that they are Bottle Gentian or Closed Bottle Gentian. Many of the sites that I have visited to find out more information about the plant do not show it as being native to Tennessee. My questions are: How rare a wildflower is the Bottle Gentain, and does it have any medicinal or nutritional value? I did manage to get a couple of digital photos.. Thank you for your time attention.

ANSWER:

The Bottle Gentian, Gentiana clausa (bottle gentian), and the Closed Bottle Gentian, Gentiana andrewsii (closed bottle gentian) are two different species. The Closed Bottle Gentian is not found in Tennessee, but the Bottle Gentian is reported in four of the eastern-most counties in the state (Johnson, Carter, Washington, and Unicoi). Gentiana villosa Gentiana villosa (striped gentian) however does occur in Grainger County. It would be helpful  for us to have your photos, so if you would, go to the Plant Identification page and follow the directions there for sending your pictures to us. For more images of these Gentians, click on the name of the plant: Bottle Gentian, Closed Bottle Gentian, and Stripped Gentian.

The Bottle Gentiana is not considered a rare wildflower by the Department of Environment and Conservation of the State of Tennessee (use the helpful Links box on their page). For more information about rare plants, check out the Rare Plant Information Sources of the U.S. Forest Service.

People over the years have used Gentians for a wide variety of purposes, including medicinal uses. The Bottle Gentian isn't used as a medicinal plant, however other Gentians including the  Closed Bottle Gentian, have a long history of medicinal use, ranging from treatment of anorexia to ulcers.

 

From the Image Gallery


Bottle gentian
Gentiana clausa

Closed bottle gentian
Gentiana andrewsii

Striped gentian
Gentiana villosa

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