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P Native Photo: J.M. Garg
Common name: Spikenard, Indian Nard, Nardin, Muskroot • Hindi: जटामांसी Jatamansi, बालछड़ Balchhar • Kannada: Ganigalamusthe, ಜಟಾಮಾಂಸೀ Jatamaansi • Malayalam: ജടാമാംസീ Jatamamsi • Nepali: भुत्ले Bhutle, जटामसी Jatamasi • Sanskrit: भूतजटा Bhutajata, जटामांसी Jatamansi • Tamil: ஜடாமாஸீ Jatamasi, சக்கரவர்திநீ Chakkaravarttini • Telugu: జటామాంశీ Jatamaanshi • Urdu: Balchar, Nardin, Sumbul-ul-teeb ﺳﹹﻤﺒﹹﻞ ﺍﹸﻝ ﺗﻴﺐ
Botanical name: Nardostachys jatamansi    Family: Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle family)
Synonyms: Valeriana jatamansi D.Don, Nardostachys grandiflora, Nardostachys chinensis

Spikenard is one of the most attractive alpine plants, unfortunately rare, with rose-purple to whitish flowers in dense heads borne in branch-end clusters which are often branched. The whole plant has a very distinctive and lingering smell. Flower-tube is variable 6-20 mm, with 5 rounded petals spreading to 1.2 cm or more; sepal-cup is colored, 5-lobed, the sepals enlarging in fruit and becoming papery. Leaves are elliptic-lanceshaped or spoon-shaped, 5-20 cm, mostly basal and arising from the spindle-shaped rootstock which is covered with the dark fibres of old leaves. Flowering stem is 5-30 cm. Fruit is obovate, flattened, 1-seeded. The Spikenard is known since ancient times, a favorite perfume. Spikenard is found on rocks, ledges, open slopes, in the Himalayas, from Uttarakhand to SW China, at altitudes of 3600-4800 m. Flowering: June-August.
Medicinal uses: The root-is an excellent substitute for Valerian, and is used in many medicinal treatments, while the oil obtained from the root is used in many medicinal preparations and is well known as a hair tonic. 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.

Identification credit: Pankaj Kumar Photographed on Ghangaria-Hemkunt route, Uttarakhand.

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