Asphodelus ramosus

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other uses, see Asphodel (disambiguation).
Asphodelus ramosus
Asphodelus ramosus 002.JPG
Asphodelus ramosus
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Xanthorrhoeaceae
Subfamily: Asphodeloideae
Genus: Asphodelus
Species: A. ramosus
Binomial name
Asphodelus ramosus

Asphodelus ramosus, also known as branched asphodel, is a perennial herb in the Asparagales order. Similar in appearance to Asphodelus albus and particularly Asphodelus cerasiferus, it may be distinguished by its highly branched stem and smaller fruits.[1]

Asphodelus ramosus is native to the Mediterranean region of southern Europe, northern Africa, and the Middle East. It can also be found in the Canary Islands.[2][3] [4] It is particularly common on the Catalan coast, where it shows an affinity for acidic soils, mainly schist. It is to be found close to the sea on the slopes of the Albères massif, where it forms abundant colonies in April to May. Its very numerous flowers are white with six tepals bearing a central brown streak. The fruits are small round capsules.[5]

It has been thought to be Homer's asphodel of the underworld,[6] but so has the closely related Asphodeline lutea.

Asphodel is known to contain colchicine, a chemical used in the treatment of gout.[citation needed] It was mentioned by Dioscorides, amongst others, for this purpose.[7]


  1. ^ Altervista Flora Italiana, Asphodelus ramosus includes photos plus European distribution map
  2. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  3. ^ Dobignard, D. & Chatelain, C. (2010). Index synonymique de la flore d'Afrique du nord 1: 1-455. Éditions des conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Genève.
  4. ^ Davis, P.H. (ed.) (1984). Flora of Turkey and the East Aegean Islands 8: 1-632. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.
  5. ^ Danin, A. (2004). Distribution Atlas of Plants in the Flora Palaestina area: 1-517. The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Jerusalem.
  6. ^ Anonymous (May–October 1887). "Homer the botanist". Macmillan's Magazine (London: Macmillan and Company) 56: 428–436. Retrieved 3 November 2014. 
  7. ^ Riddle, John M. "Byzantine Commentaries on Dioscorides".