HERB - Re:spikenard

Kathleen Keeler kkeeler at unlserve.unl.edu
Mon Oct 11 13:57:13 PDT 1999

Heywood, Flowering plants of the world, a book on the classification of
world plants, notes
both spikenard and valerian as members of the Valerianaceae.

(   Plants are classified Kingdom (Plantae) Division Class Order Family
Genus Species -- Division gets
you out of algae and ferns to flowering plants (Angiosperms), Class
separates flowering plants into monocotyledons and dicotyledons, Orders
are odd things that combine, say, the monocotyledons lilies, irises and
yuccas, separate those from grasses and cattails.  Families are the
important groupings of flowering plants.  There are 400-450 families
depending on your authority.  All have a name based on a characteristic
genus in that family, with the ending ceae
Agavaceae includes the genus _Agave_ , Rosaceae the genus _Rosa_ ,
Violaceae the genus _Viola_.  You could call these the agave, rose and
violet families in English, but you could also refer to them as the
yucca, apple and pansy families.  Genus and species are the "scientific
name", italicized because they are in Latin, genus capitalized, species
not.  Species never is used alone.)

The Valerianaceae, says Heywood, is a medium sized family of 13 genera
(genus makes its plural as a Latin word, 1 genus, 2 genera), and about
400 species.  About half the species are in the genus Valeriana.  Some
species in the genus Valerianella "provide corn salad or lamb's
letttuce, used as a salad mainly in Continental Europe."  Some are
perfume and dye plants, "the best-known is Nardostachysjatamansi from
the Himalayan region, the spikenard of old.  The best-known garden
ornamental is Centranthus ruber, red valerian."  (p. 260.)

This matches Brother Cadfael's Herb Garden, which says spikenard is
Nardostachys grandifloraor Nardostachys jatamansi, also known as nard,
and is a native of Asia.

In a way they are all valerians, as in, members of the  family

I remember being offended by red valerian;  I was trying to learn
valerian, and was not pleased that the "valerian" I had learned was
another genus (Centranthus).

kkeeler1 at unl.edu
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