The rhizomes of Nardostachys /atamansi, D. C, (Patrinia Jatamansi, Wallich) and of N grandiflora, D. C, (N. O. Valeri-anacead) which are indigenous to the Himalaya mountains of northern India have an odor reminding faintly of musk but more strongly of patchouly. On account of its fragrance this root was highly prized during antiquity, being esteemed all the more because of its limited supply. It was used for perfuming ointments and fatty oils which were employed in anointing ceremonies. It was evidently regarded as one of the most precious aromatics.1) Later, especially out side of India, other roots were used as substitutes for the Indian narde (spikenarde), and frequently confounded with it, notably that of Ferula sumbul, Hook. fil., and still later that of Valeriana celtica, L.2)

The original Hebrew name was Nerd; in Greek (derived from the Sanskrit) it was termedOil Of Nardostachys Jatamansi 36 in Latin, Nardus indica, Nardus spica, Sp/ca Nardus; in Arabic Senubol (ear). Later this name was applied by different peoples to similar and even to different aromatic plants. Moreover, these were confounded with narde. In the first century of the Christian era, Dioscorides3) already distinguished between Nardus indica, syrica and celtica. As Phu4) he probably regarded partly narde, partly valerian.

1) Song of Solomon, 1:12; 4:13 and 14. - St. Mark., 14:3-5. - St. John., 12:3 - 5. - Horatii Carmina. Lib. IV, carm. 13, verses 16 - 17. - During festive meals it was a Roman custom, not only to decorate guests with flowers, but to anoint them as well with narde.

Cur non sub alta vel platano, vel hac

Pinu jacentes sic temere, et rosa

Canos odorati capillos,

Dum licet, Assyriaque Nardo

Potamus uncti.

(Horatii Carmina. Lib. II. carm. 11.)

2) Sir Wm. Jones, On the Spikenard of the ancients in "Asiatic Researches" in Transactions of the Society instituted in Bengal, for inquiring into the history and antiquities, the arts, sciences and literature of Asia. Calcutta 1789. Vol.2. (London edition p. 416.) - Roxburgh, Additional remarks on the Spikenard of the ancients. Ibidem vol. 4, p. 97.

3) Dioscoridis De materia medica libri quinque. Editio Kuhn-Sprengel. 1829. Vol. 1, pp. 15 - 17.

4) Ibidem p. 20.

As having a similar odor, Scribonius Largusl) enumerates Nardus indica, Nardus celtica, Stcechas, Nardus italica, Spica Nardi (also used to designate species of Lavandula), and Indian grass (species of Andropogon).2)

In midasval literature the original narde is mentioned but once, namely as one of the precious incense materials used during the entrance of emperor Henry IV. in to Rome.3) In midseval treatises on distillation and in pharmacopoeias, Indian narde no longer is mentioned, but spica and spikenard are.4)