Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun An aromatic perennial herb (Nardostachys grandiflora) of the Himalaya Mountains, having rose-purple flowers.
  • noun An ointment of antiquity, probably prepared from this plant.
  • noun Any of several plants of the genus Aralia, especially the North American species A. racemosa, having small greenish flowers, aromatic roots, and bipinnately compound leaves.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A plant, the source of a famous perfumed unguent of the ancients, now believed to be Nardostachys Jatamansi, closely allied to valerian, found in the Himalayan region.
  • noun An aromatic ointment of ancient times, in which spikenard was the characteristic ingredient; nard. It was extremely costly.
  • noun A name given to various fragrant essential oils.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Bot.) An aromatic plant. In the United States it is the Aralia racemosa, often called spignet, and used as a medicine. The spikenard of the ancients is the Nardostachys Jatamansi, a native of the Himalayan region. From its blackish roots a perfume for the hair is still prepared in India.
  • noun A fragrant essential oil, as that from the Nardostachys Jatamansi.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A perfumed ointment.
  • noun The plant, Nardostachys jatamans, from which the ointment comes.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun an aromatic ointment used in antiquity

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Anglo-Norman, from Medieval Latin spīca nardī : Latin spīca, spike, ear + Latin nardī, genitive of nardus, nard.]

Examples

  • The spikenard is a lowly herb, the emblem of humility.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

  • In another incident the hapless Judas Iscariot questions why Jesus has expensive ointment (a pound of "spikenard" worth 300 denarii, or a year's wages) rubbed on his feet (and wiped off with a woman's hair!).

    WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

  • Season of the Inundation: Sweet, black silt mingled with holy myrrh, melilot, hyssop, spikenard, balsam, cedar, and a hint of melting snow from the Abyssinian hills.

    Thor's Day

  • In the garden grow "an orchard of pomegranates . . . spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense".

    Ten of the best: walled gardens

  • Geilie's loose, flowing gowns smelled always of the essences she distilled: marigold, chamomile, bay leaf, spikenard, mint, marjoram.

    Sick Cycle Carousel

  • When Mary washes his feet with expensive spikenard, Judas asks, "Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?"

    Archive 2007-07-01

  • When Mary washes his feet with expensive spikenard, Judas asks, "Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?"

    Mockery

  • This scent is subtitled “A spikenard perfume” and this is an aromatic plant from which a healing ointment is made; it has been used for both its medicinal properties and in rituals since ancient times and is a component of Indian Ayurvedic traditions.

    DSH Perfumes Part Four: Roses and Resins

  • Other significant aromatics in traditional Japanese perfumery are gum-resins such as borneol and camphor, myrrh, frankincense and benzoin; roots such as galangal alpinia and spikenard; patchouli leaves; and spices – cloves, cassia, cinnamon and star anise.

    Kimono and Incense

  • Other significant aromatics in traditional Japanese perfumery are gum-resins such as borneol and camphor, myrrh, frankincense and benzoin; roots such as galangal alpinia and spikenard; patchouli leaves; and spices – cloves, cassia, cinnamon and star anise.

    Archive 2009-01-01

Comments

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  • Also known as nard, nardin, and muskroot.

    A flowering plant of the Valerian family that grows in the Himalayas of China, India and Nepal. 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.

    Lavender (genus Lavandula) was also known by the ancient Greeks as naardus, nard, after the Syrian city Naarda.

    October 12, 2007

  • "The sweet-woody animal odor of spikenard."

    Seedlip and Sweet Apple by Arra Lynn Ross, p 17

    December 6, 2010

  • Supposedly attracts cats.

    December 25, 2012

  • Meow.

    December 26, 2012

  • "To modern eyes the most striking use of spices is in a huge variety of sauces, both hot and cold, either cooked as an integral part of the dish or added after cooking. There was a sharp sauce to cut fat.... A digestive sauce helped the meat go down with the sharp-sweet combination.... There was a green sauce of pepper, cumin, caraway, spikenard*, 'all types of mixed green herbs,' dates, honey, vinegar, wine, garum, and oil...."

    *Spikenard, Nardostachys jatamansi, a scented grass from which an aromatic oil is extracted, is native to northern India."

    --Jack Turner, _Spice: The History of a Temptation_ (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), 70

    November 30, 2016

  • "The author writes to a business associate, apparently his superior, about different transactions involving sheep, clothing, spikenard (a plant used in medicine and scents), a saddle, stirrups, and straps. Most likely a merchant, he mentions wanting to know his 'profit and loss.' We do not know why he left Iran, but we can speculate that he (or his ancestors) moved east to escape the Islamic conquest, and he ended up in the Khotan region during a particularly turbulent time."

    --Valerie Hansen, The Silk Road: A New History (Oxford and New York: Oxford UP, 2012), 217-218

    January 4, 2017

  • Interesting usage/historical note in comment on perfumer. Also see nard used on myrrh.

    November 28, 2017