Spikenard

(Nardostachys jatamansi) This is the Spikenard of the Bible (Moldenke & Moldenke), the "spike" being the ear that grows from the rhizome (Dalby). It has scented roots, which are used in India as a perfume for the hair (Moldenke & Moldenke), and the oil is used to improve hair growth (Lewis & Elvin-Lewis). Distillation of this root produces oil of spikenard, although all parts contain the aromatic oil, especially the rootstock, whose fragrant oil is mixed with other oils to make spikenard ointment, once used in cosmetics and in medicine for the treatment of nervous disorders (Zohary). The 'ointment of spikenard' Mary used to anoint Jesus's feet before the last supper is thought to have been derived from this plant (Lewington), but there are other candidates, the desert Camel grass (Cymbopogon schoenanthus) being one.

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