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Earthnotes
Herb Library

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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.




ASPHODEL
aka Asphodele Rameux, Branched Asphodel, King's Spear, Royal Staff, White Asphodel
(Asphodelus Ramosus)
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CONTAINS: An acrid principle (which is destroyed or separated by boiling water) and a substance resembling inuline.

A 3-foot high plant with large white terminal flowers and radical, long, numerous leaves which is native to Middle Europe and the shores of the Mediterranean. It is usually found cultivated in botanical gardens and ornamental gardens. Anciently, they were planted near tombs as it was believed to be the favorite food of the dead and in this regard are mentioned in many old poems. The name is derived from a Greek word meaning "scepter". At one time they were employed medicinally by Greeks and Romans, but they are no longer so used.

PROPAGATION: Easily grown from seeds or division of roots.
HARVEST: Roots must be gathered at the end of the first year.
PART USED: Roots
RELATED SPECIES:
YELLOW ASPHODEL aka Jacob's Staff (Asphodelus luteus): Native to Sicily.
ONION-LEAVED ASPHODEL (Asphodelus fistulosus): Native to southern France and Crete.

USES

MEDICINAL:
Uses are of historic and research interest only.
Acrid, heating, diuretic.
Once used for menstrual obstructions and as an antispasmodic.
The bruised root was used to rapidly dissolve scrofulous swellings.

OTHER:
In Algeria an alcoholic beverage has been made from the root.
In some cultures the roots are dried, then boiled in water to yield a mucilaginous material that is mixed with grain or potatoes to make Asphodel bread.
Used as cattle fodder in Spain and other countries; especially for sheep.
A favorite food of wild boars in Barbary.
In Iran (Persia) a glue was made with the bulbs. They were dried, pulverized, then mixed with cold water. The powder swells and forms a strong glue.
Ancient Greek references describe the bulbs as being cooked in ashes, then eaten.





©2000 by Ernestina Parziale, CH

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