Botanist Jacob Bigelow
produced the first American botanical encyclopedia to feature colored illustrations,
using a color printing process he devised himself. The blue gentian (Gentiana
catesbaei), shown here, is one of over 400 species of the Gentiana family. The
gentian takes its name from a king of ancient Illyria, Gentius, who allegedly
discovered its medicinal properties. A natural antacid, the bitter roots have
been used in herbal cures for a variety of digestive complaints.
College of Physicians of Philadelphia
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