|White asphodel (Asphodelus albus)|
Asphodelus is a genus of mainly perennial plants native to western, central, and southern Europe but that are now spread worldwide. Asphodels are popular garden plants, which grow in well-drained soils with abundant natural light. Now placed in the family Xanthorrhoeaceae, subfamily Asphodeloideae, like many lilioid monocots, the genus was formerly placed in the lily family (Liliaceae).
The plants are hardy herbaceous perennials with narrow tufted radical leaves and an elongated stem bearing a handsome spike of white or yellow flowers. Asphodelus albus and A. fistulosus have white flowers and grow from 1½ to 2 ft. high; A. ramosus is a larger plant, the large white flowers of which have a reddish-brown line in the middle of each segment.
The leaves are used to wrap burrata, an Italian cheese. The leaves and the cheese last about the same time, three or four days, and thus fresh leaves are a sign of a fresh cheese, while dried out leaves indicate that the cheese is past its prime. In Sardinia, honey produced from bees who have fed on the plant is highly favored for its delicate taste. In Puglia, the unopened buds of the plant are collected, blanched in boiling water and preserved in olive-oil. This is used as a condiment. In some areas of Sardinia, especially Tinnura and Flussio, the stems are used to weave baskets used in bread-making. At one time, these were an indispensable part of the trousseau of a bride-to-be. Women in Elizabethan Lancashire used it as a yellow hair dye. 
In Greek legend the asphodel is one of the most famous of the plants connected with the dead and the underworld. Homer describes it as covering the great meadow (ἀσφόδελος λειμών), the haunt of the dead. It was planted on graves, and is often connected with Persephone, who appears crowned with a garland of asphodels. Its general connection with death is due no doubt to the greyish colour of its leaves and its yellowish flowers, which suggest the gloom of the underworld and the pallor of death. The roots were eaten by the poorer Greeks; hence such food was thought good enough for the shades. The asphodel was also supposed to be a remedy for poisonous snake-bites and a specific against sorcery; it was fatal to mice, but preserved pigs from disease. The Libyan nomads made their huts of asphodel stalks.
The asphodel is mentioned by several poets in connection with the mythology of death, and by association, the afterlife - specifically the Isles of the Blessed and Elysium - part of the ancient Greek concept of the afterlife.
- Milton: "To embathe In nectared lavers strewed with asphodel."
- Pope: "Happy Souls who dwell In Yellow Meads of Asphodel, Or Amaranthine Bowers."
- Tennyson: "Others in Elysian valleys dwell, Resting weary limbs at last on beds of asphodel."
- Longfellow:"He, who wore the crown of asphodels, Descending, at my door began to knock."
- Barrett Browning: "As one who stands in dewless asphodel, Looks backward on the tedious time he had In the upper life."
In Popular Culture
In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (published in the US as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone) Professor Snape tells Harry Potter that powdered root of asphodel is an ingredient in a powerful sleeping potion known as the Draught of Living Death.
- Asphodelus acaulis Desf. - Branched asphodel
- Asphodelus aestivus Brot. - Summer asphodel, also known as Common asphodel and Silver rod
- Asphodelus albus Mill. - White asphodel, also known as Rimmed lichen
- Asphodelus ayardii Jahand. & Maire
- Asphodelus bakeri Breistr.
- Asphodelus bento-rainhae P.Silva
- Asphodelus cerasiferus J.Gay
- Asphodelus fistulosus L. - Onion-leaved asphodel, also known as Onionweed
- Asphodelus gracilis Braun-Blanq. & Maire
- Asphodelus lusitanicus Cout.
- Asphodelus luteus L. – synonym of Asphodeline lutea
- Asphodelus macrocarpus Parl.
- Asphodelus ramosus L. - Branched asphodel
- Asphodelus refractus Boiss.
- Asphodelus roseus Humbert & Maire
- Asphodelus serotinus Wolley-Dod
- Asphodelus tenuifolius Cav.
- Asphodelus viscidulus Boiss.
- Chase, M. W.; Reveal, J. L.; Fay, M. F. (August 2009). "A subfamilial classification for the expanded asparagalean families Amaryllidaceae, Asparagaceae and Xanthorrhoeaceae". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society (The Linnean Society of London) 161 (2): 132–136. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00999.x.
- Roberts, Genevieve (2 March 2011). "Burrata: Britain's new Big cheese". The Independent. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
- Translated from w:it:Asphodelus (unreferenced)
- Thomas, Keith (1996). Man and the Natural World: Changing Attitudes in England, 1500-1800. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 73.
- Shorter Oxford English dictionary, 6th ed. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. 2007. p. 3804. ISBN 0199206872.
- "Greek Word Study Tool". Perseus.tufts.edu. Retrieved 2011-10-20.
- WCSP (2011), World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, retrieved 2011-06-27, search for "Asphodelus"
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Asphodel". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Media related to Asphodelus at Wikimedia Commons