En EspaŅol

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
2 ratings

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


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.


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

More Medicinal Plants Questions

Shrub with thorns, black fruit and citrus fragrance in Michigan
September 19, 2014 - I'm not sure that my plant is a native, but I'm hoping to find some answer. There is a small patch of roadside shrubs on my property which I've been unable to identify. They have simple opposite ...
view the full question and answer

Use of North American native in India
October 09, 2009 - I got mail from someone who is living in U.K asking me to co-ordinate for getting the "Silphium terebinthinaceum seed" from various places for one Pharmaceutical company as a business. Is it the com...
view the full question and answer

Growing fruits and vegetables from Holbrook NY
April 06, 2012 - I have been looking for information on what plants, vegetables and fruits can be grown on Long Island NY to provide a sustainable food source for a community in the event of food becoming scarce. Wha...
view the full question and answer

Use of cenizo (Leucophyllum frutescens) for tea
February 20, 2006 - Back in the 50's when I spent the summers with my grandmother south of Hondo, Texas, she use to pick leaves from the cenizo (purple sage) bushes, dry them and then brew them for tea. I asked one of m...
view the full question and answer

Identifying a plant similar to sarsaparilla
September 04, 2011 - I am trying to identify a plant that looks very similar to sasparilla, but has a ring of blue berries at the end of a long stalk, and the plant itself is spreading, not an isolated herb like sasparill...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center