French name: La gentiane jaune
Whilst out walking last week I came across these rather striking yellow wildflowers.
Standing at over a metre in height, its tall stems were surrounded by clusters of 5-7 narrow petalled, yellow flowers, under which sat a pair of opposite leaves, increasing in size as they descended the stem.
Yellow Gentian can be found in more mountainous regions of France including the Alps, Le Massif Central, Le Jura, Les Pyrénées and Les Vosges where it can typically be found growing at altitudes of between 800 – 2500 metres.
Living for up to 50 years, Yellow Gentian does not flower until it is 7-9 years old, making me wonder just how long these beauties have been growing for in the Millevaches Natural Regional Park , certainly for longer than I have lived here!
Common names for Yellow Gentian include bitter root and bitterwort, names attributed to this wildflower due to the bitter nature of its roots, leaves and stems. It is widely used across Europe to make bitter herbal tonics as well as having other pharmaceutical and cosmetic applications.
Before the introduction of hops, Gentian was occasionally used to brew beer and it is still used today to make bitter liqueurs, the most famous being the French digestif; Salers.
Yellow Gentian flowers from June to August depending on the altitude. If you live in a more mountainous region of France, keep an eye out for this majestic flower now. If you see one, I’d love to know so please leave your comments in the box below.