Nardostachys jatamansi

Nardostachys jatamansi is a flowering plant of the valerian family that grows in the Himalayas. It is a source of a type of intensely aromatic amber-colored essential oil, spikenard. The oil has, since ancient times, been used as a perfume, as a traditional medicine, and in religious ceremonies. It is also called spikenard, nard, nardin, or muskroot. It is considered endangered due to overharvesting for folk medicine, overgrazing, loss of habitats, and forest degradation.

Nardostachys grandiflora.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Dipsacales
Family: Caprifoliaceae
Genus: Nardostachys
N. jatamansi
Binomial name
Nardostachys jatamansi
  • Fedia grandiflora Wall. ex DC., nom. inval.
  • Fedia jatamansi Wall. ex DC., nom. inval.
  • Nardostachys chinensis Batalin
  • Nardostachys grandiflora DC.
  • Patrinia jatamansi D.Don
  • Valeriana jatamansi D.Don, nom. illeg.


Nardostachys jatamansi is a flowering plant of the honeysuckle family that grows in the eastern Himalayas, primarily in a belt through Kumaon, Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan.[3] The plant grows to about 1 m in height and has pink, bell-shaped flowers. It is found at an altitude of 3,000–5,000 m (9,800–16,400 ft). Rhizomes (underground stems) can be crushed and distilled into an intensely aromatic amber-colored essential oil, which is very thick in consistency. Nard oil is used as a perfume, an incense, a sedative, and an herbal medicine said to fight insomnia, birth difficulties, and other minor ailments.[4]


Preliminary research on the chemical components of Nardostachys jatamansi indicates the plant contains:[5]

Historical useEdit

Nardostachys jatamansi may have been used as an ingredient in the incense known as spikenard, although lavender has also been suggested as a candidate for the spikenard of classical times.[citation needed][6]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Nardostachys jatamansi", The Plant List, retrieved 2014-09-19
  3. ^ Bakhru, H.K. (1993). Herbs that heal : natural remedies for good health (3rd print. ed.). New Delhi u.a.: Orient Paperbacks. p. 117. ISBN 978-8122201338.
  4. ^ Dalby, Andrew (2000), Dangerous Tastes: the story of spices, London: British Museum Press, ISBN 978-0-7141-2720-0 (US ISBN 0-520-22789-1) pp. 83–88
  5. ^ Zhang, X; Lan Z; Dong XP; Deng Y; Hu XM; Peng T; Guo P. (January 2007). "Study on the active components of Nardostachys chinensis". Zhong Yao Cai. 30 (1): 38–41. PMID 17539300.
  6. ^ O'Neill, Alexander; et al. (2017-03-29). "Integrating ethnobiological knowledge into biodiversity conservation in the Eastern Himalayas". Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. 13 (21): 21. doi:10.1186/s13002-017-0148-9. PMC 5372287. PMID 28356115.

External linksEdit