Gentiana lutea 

Scope: Europe
Language: English

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Magnoliopsida Gentianales Gentianaceae

Scientific Name: Gentiana lutea L.
Common Name(s):
English Great Yellow Gentian
French Gentiane Jaune

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern (Regional assessment) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2010-06-23
Assessor(s): Bazos, I., Gigot, G., Gygax, A., Jogan, N., Melnyk, V. & Montagnani, C.
Reviewer(s): Leaman, D., Bilz, M. & Burden, A.
Contributor(s): Alessandrini, A., Barberis, G., Bertolli, A., Bovio, M., Djurić, B., Mangili, F., Marsili, S., Peccenini, S., Prosser, F., Rinaldi, G. & Santangelo, A.
European regional assessment: Least Concern (LC)
EU 27 regional assessment: Least Concern (LC)

This species is classed as Least Concern as it is widespread with stable populations in parts of its range and therefore the risk of the species going completely extinct in Europe is quite low. However, it is concerning that the species is classed as threatened on various national red lists and the main threat is still overharvesting of this medicinal plant - adequate measures to prevent this are needed and the populations should be continuously monitored.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Gentiana lutea is an element of montane-subalpine deciduous and coniferous forests of European mountain ranges. This species is mainly found in the Balkans, middle and southern Europe, Pyrenees, Alps, Carpathians and Minor Asia (Turkey). It is native to many European countries: Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, France (mainland and Corsica), Greece, Italy (mainland and Sardinia), Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland and Ukraine (Euro+Med Plantbase 2006-2010).

In France, it is found in at least 60 localities (rest of the data are not clear). It has a scattered distribution in north western and central Greece. It can be found in the northern and central mountain range of Italy and in Sardinia and Sicily at more than 500 localities. In Slovenia, it has been reported from three localities, it is widespread  in the western part of the country and scattered elsewhere. In Spain, it occurs at 120 - 122 localities. In Switzerland, Gentiana lutea is found in the Alps and Jura at many sites. In Ukraine, it grows in the Chornogora, Gorgany, Svidivec and Marnaroski Alpy mountain massifs of the Carpathians.

Countries occurrence:
Albania; Austria; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; France (Corsica, France (mainland)); Germany; Greece (Greece (mainland)); Italy (Italy (mainland), Sardegna, Sicilia); Portugal (Portugal (mainland)); Romania; Serbia; Slovenia; Spain (Spain (mainland)); Switzerland; Ukraine (Ukraine (main part))
Additional data:
Lower elevation limit (metres):600
Upper elevation limit (metres):2500
Range Map:162067-1

Population [top]

Population:The population trend in the Balkans, where most of the European populations are found, is declining, especially in Bosnia, Albania and Montenegro. In the other European countries the populations are stable as they are not collected in the wild. The subpopulations are isolated and severely fragmented and there is very little seed exchange between them. The species is confined to mountain slopes. It is mainly found in isolated patches with a few individuals. The Balkan populations declined by c. 30% in the last 15 years.
In France, the populations are mainly stable but may be in decline in some places at low altitude. The situation is similar in Italy, where the populations are stable but there are local declines e.g. in Sardinia from collection. The Slovenian populations are stable, and in Switzerland, it is widespread, stable or even increasing as people used to collect it and this collection has ceased.
In the past the area occupied by Gentiana lutea was bigger in the Ukraine than it is now. It occupied all the Carpathians high mountains from Gorgany to Chivehiny mountain massifs. Now, isolated populations occupy 10-15 m² and the total area of this species in the Ukrainian Carpathians is only 167 ha.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It is a perennial single stem species with yellow flowers at the tip. Flowers first time in the third year of its life. It occurs in the mountains at high altitude and prefers calcareous soils in meadows. This species grows in glades of humid pine forests, rocky and shaded grasses. It does not stand high temperature and needs high precipitation.

This plant grows in the following Habitats Directive listed habitats (Commission of the European Communities 2009):
  • 4030 European dry heaths
  • 4060 Alpine and Boreal heaths
  • 5120 Mountain Cytisus purgans formations
  • 6170 Alpine and subalpine calcareous grasslands
  • 6210 Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareoussubstrates (Festuco-Brometalia)
  • 6230 Species-rich Nardus grasslands, on silicious substrates in mountain areas (and submountain areas in Continental Europe)
  • 6520 Mountain hay meadows
In Ukraine it grows in shrubland with Pinus mugo, Juniperus sibirica, Duschekia alnobetula and in herbaceous communities dominated by Nardus stricta.
Generation Length (years):9

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The roots of G. lutea are used for medicinal purposes and to produce liquor. It is put in alcohol to remove the bitter taste. Medicinally it is mainly used for treatment of digestive complaints (World Health Organization 2007).

In France, 2,500 tonnes are being collected in the Massif Central (CBN Massif Central 2010).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Overharvesting of the wild populations for medicinal and food purposes is the main threat to the species. Furthermore, the modification of cultivation practices including an increased use of fertilisers and the abandonment of pastoral systems that leads to vegetation succession, are impacting this species. Locally, the conversion of shrubland and grassland into forest plantations leads to habitat loss. Overgrazing and recreational activities are further local threats.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Gentiana lutea is listed on Annex V of the Habitats Directive and under Annex D of the EU Wildlife Trade Regulation 318-2008. Live specimens of this species as well as dried and fresh plants, including, leaves, roots/rootstock, stems, seeds/spores, bark and fruits are subject to this regulation.

In several countries, e.g. Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Montenegro, Italy, Slovenia, special collection permits are required from the government. In Serbia and Croatia, the collection of this species is forbidden. It is recommended to replace wild collections by increasing cultivation of the species, to control the harvesting and maintain traditional agriculture.

Measures at national level are in place for various countries, for example:
  • France: Listed in la liste des espèces végétales protégées en région Champagne-Ardenne (21) (Arrêté du 8 février 1988) and listed as protected species in 7 Départements (Alpes-Maritimes, Haute-Corse, Alpes-de-Haute-de-Provence, Jura, Corse-du-Sud, Corse-du-Sud, Haute-Corse).
  • Germany: It is listed as Vulnerable (level 3) on the national red list (Ludwig and Schnittler 1996) and is under national protection.
  • Greece: It is protected under the Presidential Decree 67/81, and found in seven Natura 2000 sites
  • Italy: It is partially included in parks and Natura 2000 sites. In Sardinia, a project to recover the population is underway.
  • Slovenia: It was formerly protected by law and is listed as Vulnerable in the national red list (Čušin et al. 2004).
  • Serbia: It is estimated to be Vulnerable (V. Stevanović pers. comm. 2010).
  • Switzerland: Classed as Least Concern in the national red list (Moser et al. 2002), partially included in protected areas.
  • Ukraine: It is included in the Red Data Book (Diduch 2009) as Vulnerable, and protected in the Carpathian reserve, Carpathian national park, in Apchineckij zakaznik.

Citation: Bazos, I., Gigot, G., Gygax, A., Jogan, N., Melnyk, V. & Montagnani, C. 2011. Gentiana lutea. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T162067A5546174. . Downloaded on 14 December 2017.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided