spikenard spīk´närd [key], name for several plants. The biblical spikenard, or nard, was a costly aromatic ointment, preserved in alabaster boxes, whose chief ingredient is believed to have been derived from Nardostachys grandiflora (or N. jatamansi ), a plant of the family Valerianaceae ( valerian family). Such was the precious box of ointment that Mary Magdalen broke over Jesus' feet. The American spikenard, or Indian root, is Aralia racemosa, of the family Araliaceae ( ginseng family). The fragrant rhizome of both of these plants is still sometimes used medicinally. The false Solomon's seal, of the family Liliaceae ( lily family), is sometimes called wild spikenard. Spikenards are all classified in the division Magnoliophyta but differ in the classes, orders, and families to which they belong.
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