Medical Herbs Catalogue



Botanical Name: Asphodelus Ramosus
Family: N.O. Liliaceae

Synonyms: White Asphodel. Asphodele Rameux. Royal Staff. Branched Asphodel. King's Spear.
Part Used: The roots.
Habitat: Middle Europe. The shores of the Mediterranean.

Description: The plant is about 3 feet high, with large, white, terminal flowers, and radical, long, numerous leaves. It is only cultivated in botanical and ornamental gardens, though it easily grows from seeds or division of roots.

The roots must be gathered at the end of the first year.

The ancients planted the flowers near tombs, regarding them as the form of food preferred by the dead, and many poems refer to this custom. The name is derived from a Greek word meaning sceptre.

The roots, dried and boiled in water, yield a mucilaginous matter that in some countries is mixed with grain or potato to make Asphodel bread. In Spain and other countries they are used as cattle fodder, especially for sheep. In Barbary the wild boars eat them greedily.

In Persia, glue is made with the bulbs, which are first dried and then pulverized. When mixed with cold water, the powder swells and forms a strong glue.

Hippocrates, Dioscorides, and Pliny said the roots were cooked in ashes and eaten. The Greeks and Romans used them in several diseases, but they are not employed in modern medicine.

Constituents: An acrid principle separated or destroyed by boiling water, and a matter resembling inuline have been found. An alcohol of excellent flavour has been obtained from plants growing abundantly in Algeria.

Medicinal Action and Uses: Acrid, heating, and diuretic. Said to be useful inmenstrual obstructions and as an antispasmodic. The bruised root has been recommended for rapidly dissolving scrofulous swellings.

Other Species:
A. luteus, or Yellow Asphodel, Jacob'sStaff, is a native of Sicily.

A. fistulosus, or Onion-leaved Asphodel, of Southern France and Crete, is also employed.

BOG OR LACASHIRE ASPHODEL is a common name of Narthecium ossifragum. The name of 'bone-breaker' was unfortunately given, because, as It grows on wet moors and mountains, sheep pasturing there frequently suffered from foot rot, and this was attributed to their browsing on the plants.

FALSE ASPHODEL is an American name for Tofieldia.

SCOTCH ASPHODEL is a common name of Tofieldia palustris.