Qualitative and quantitative characterization of natural saccharides, especially polysaccharides, in herb materials remains a challenge due to their complicated structures and high macromolecular masses. Currently available methods involve time-consuming and complicated operations, and present poor specificity. Here, a novel and rapid high-performance gel permeation chromatography (HPGPC)-based approach is described for quality assessment of saccharide-dominant herbal materials by simultaneous qualitative and quantitative analysis of saccharide components. Dendrobium officinale, one of the rarest tonic herbs worldwide, was employed as the model herb in this study. First, a HPGPC fingerprint based on the molecular weight distribution of its carbohydrate components was established for qualitative identification of D. officinale. Then, HPGPC-guided dominant holistic polysaccharide marker was separated using ultra-filtration followed by HPGPC determination for quantitative evaluation of D. officinale. The experimental results suggest that this method is more efficient, stable, and convenient compared with the currently available methods for authentication and quality evaluation of D. officinale, and we expect the method will have similar advantages when used for quality control of other saccharide-dominant herbal materials and products.