Asphodel, or King's Spear, the Asphodelus, L. is an exotic plant, of which there are five species 5 namely, four growing wild in the southern parts of Europe, and one only, the Nartheczuvt ossifra-gum, or Lancashire Asphodel, a native of Britain. It thrives in turfy marshes, and flowers in July and August. See Withering's At-rangemerJ, 339, and Engl. Bot. K.. 535.
The best method of propagating this ornament to a garden, is, by dividing the rocts in August, before they shoot their fresh green leaves ; they may likewise be raised from seeds sown in August; and at the same time in the succeeding year, the plants produced from these may be transplanted into beds, where they will blossom in the second year. They should not be planted in small borders, among tender flowers, as they require considerable nourishment.
The Lancashire Asphodel is supposed to be very noxious to sheep; for, when necessitated to feed on it, from a poverty of pasture, they will indeed improve in flesh at first, yet they afterwards die with symptoms of a diseased liver. Horned cattle, however, eat it without any bad effect.
There are wonderful tales related of this plant by Pauli, Bar-tholini, and others : who call it < Gramer. ossifragum, from its supposed property of changing the bones of Such animals as swallow it, into car-tilage; and thus producing that singular disease in cattle, which in the human frame is, by nosologists, termed mollifies ossinm, or softness of the bones.
For the various purposes of economy, however, we recommend the culture of two species of this plant namely,
1. The- Asphodelus luteiis, L. or common Yellow Asphodel, which, according to Lemery and VICat, produces an esculent root, abounding in farinaceous particles, easily e 1 in boiling water: this mealy decoction, passed through a sieve, mixed with barky or rye-flour, and then baked, affords a palatabie and most nourishing bread. Its stalks also, though naturally acrid, may be deprived of that property by boiling, and converted to a similar use.—Another writer on economy, Prof. Beck-mann, of Gottingen, informs us that, though this plant is a native of Sicily, it prospers, and abundantly propagates, in the open air of Germany. Its roots, by which it is produced, consist of long yellow knobs, so disposed that they all adhere to a larger one, serving as the basis of the whole. They are pulpy, mucilaginous, and balsamic; and a species of bread may likewise be prepared from their seeds. —Sestini also remarks, in confirmation of the preceding facts, that the shoe-makers of Italy make of this root an excellent paste, lor cementing the inner soles; and that it is preferable to the usual paste of those artisans, who consume considerable quantities of wheaten and other flour.
2. The Asphodelus ramosus, L. or Branching Asphodel, with naked stalks three feet high, and ensi-form, cuneated, smooth leaves. It is a native of Germany, in many parts of which it grows in common meadows : its flowers are white and of a stellated form. The pulpy root of this species was eaten by the ancients, with the addition of oil and.salt; while its stalks, roasted under hot wood-ashes, afforded them, according to Bechstein, a most delicious repast.