Branched asphodel

Asphodelus ramosus
(Asphodelaceae)


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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.

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. 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.

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

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

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