HERB - What is.......

Jenne Heise jenne at tulgey.browser.net
Mon Oct 11 05:23:34 PDT 1999

On Sun, 10 Oct 1999, Rauthulfr wrote:
> In that context spikenard is probably Dioscorides' and Pliny's Nard or
> Nardus which is ...valerian!  More details when I can get to my references
> on this.  

Hm. I have never before heard Valerian identified with Spikenard.
According to the research I did recently, Spikenard (aka the biblical
nard) is a sweet-scented root from East India: Nardostachys jatamansi. It
is a member of the Valerian family. Encyclopedia Britannica says of the
common valerian (V. officinalis) "A spicy perfume extracted from the roots
sometimes is used as a substitute for spikenard" but I think substituting
Valerian from the herb shops (the kind that smells like dirty sweat socks)
in your recipe is unlikely to produce the desired effect! 
(There is also a N. American spikenard, Aralia racemosa.)
Francesco Sirene sells spikenard: http://www.silk.net/sirene/

A related question: the alchemists knew both spikenard and spike lavender.
When a recipe calls for "Oyl of Spike" would oil of lavender or oil of
spikenard be more appropriate? (A judge at one competition told me I
should leave 'modern ingredients, like lavender oil' out of my
pomanders... *giggle* I swear I enter competitions just to get the judges
to read my documentation!)

Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, mka Jennifer Heise	      jenne at tulgey.browser.net
"The Sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother 
	of the careful soul and the troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once, 
	and because she was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary's Sons, world without end, reprieve, or rest."
				-- Rudyard Kipling, "The Sons of Martha"  

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