Nardostachys jatamansi, Nardostachys grandiflora
Aromatic Note: Base note
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: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species includes Nardostachys jatamansi, and N. grandiflora.
Status: Critically endangered.
An ANSAB 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.
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
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
Essential Oil: Yes, a steam distilled essential oil is made from the dried roots.
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.