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Nardostachys jatamansi, Nardostachys grandiflora

Spikenard, Jatamansi


Description: This small attractive perennial is usually found growing on rock ledges and mountain slopes. Spikenard is prized for its aromatic rhizomes (roots). The only species of its genus, this plant is strictly regulated and protected throughout its growing range due to habitat degradation and over-harvesting. Today it's cultivated for commercial purposes.


This is the spikenard mentioned in the biblical Song of Solomon and the source of the oil used to anoint the feet of Jesus at the Last Supper.


The essential oil extracted from the plants roots contains the chemicals borneol acetate similar to that of borneol camphor, and patchouli alcohol, as is found in patchouli leaves.


Threatened Species Alert: Status: Vulnerable. The 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species now includes Spikenard, N. jatamansi, N. grandiflora - Banned for export from Nepal & Uttar Pradesh.


Annex V of the EU Habitats, Fauna and Flora Directive: (EUROPA 2003) Vulnerable in Nepal: CAMP meeting Pokhara (2001). Listed in Appendix II CITES (1997) at the request of India.  Endangered: Swat area of Pakistan. See Cropwatch

An initiative for Nardostachys spp. cultivation between an NGO & Nepalese farmers is currently in place, but carries no environmental impact studies. This initiative has brought about pharmaceutical interest (certain Nardostachys spp. constituents have a sedative effect on the CNS) and may not ultimately benefit the oil market. See also -

Family: Valerianaceae

Synonyms: nard, jatamansi, false Indian valerian root

Origin: native to the Himalayas, from Himachal Pradesh to Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, Tibet and western China

Parts Used: dried rhizomes (roots)

Aroma Description: heavy, spicy, earthy, sweet-woody, musky-animal

Emotional Attributes: relaxing, sensuous, love, cleansing/purifying, strengthening, helps with sleep

Cosmetic Uses: perfumery, aromatherapy; was used by the Moghul Empress Nur Jahan to make rejuvenating cosmetics

Culinary Uses: none known

Medicinal Attributes: astringent herb that improves digestion, calms the nerves, relaxes spasms, and lowers blood pressure; used to treat indigestion, insomnia, depression and tension headaches. Used externally for skin rashes and as a deodorant

Element Association: Fire

Magical Associations: healing, luck, awareness

Astrological Association: Taurus, Sagittarius, Pisces

Planetary Association: Moon, Venus

Season: Spring

Aromatic Note: Base note

Essential Oil: Yes, a steam distilled essential oil is made from the dried roots. Threatened Species Alert: The 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species now includes Spikenard, N. jatamansi, N. grandiflora - see Cropwatch

Mixes Well With: aloeswood, benzoin, calamus, cardamom, cassia, cedar, cinnamon, clove, ginger, guggul, labdanum, lavender, musk seed, myrrh, oakmoss, opoponax, patchouli, pine needles, sandalwood, vetiver, hops, etc.

Medical Disclaimer: Information on this web site is for entertainment purposes only. This information is NOT intended as medical advice or for use as diagnosis or treatment of a health problem or as a substitute for consulting a licensed medical professional.

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