Today I want to tell you about a plant that is particularly close to our hearts, because when it begins to bloom around here on the terraces of the Wilderness, it means that spring is just around the corner.

“The asphodel is also called St. Joseph’s staff, as tradition has it that in choosing a husband for Mary the Temple council looked for a divine sign: the man whose staff would bloom would be the girl’s groom. St. Joseph carried a stick of asphodel, and it flourished.”

I flowers begin to bloom from below as early as early March, as the plant is very hardy and resistant to adverse conditions, and they bloom all through March and mid-April. They beautify the landscape and are visited by bees, especially if other flowers are scarce due to weather conditions. They have six tepals (that is, there is no visible distinction between petals and sepals, which have the same shape and color). In most species the tepals are white with a dark stripe in the center.

The natural distribution of the genus Asphodelus has a major center around the Mediterranean basin and extends as far as Asia from the Middle East to India.

Asphodels love sunny meadows and are invasive in mountainous terrain with rock outcrops and in soils subject to overgrazing because, unlike other herbaceous plants, their leaves regenerate continuously even if they are eaten by herbivores. Goats eat both fresh and dried leaves at the end of the growing cycle; they are also fond of the dried fruits. The seed is excreted while still active with the droppings, and this is the main means of propagation in areas where grazing is practiced.

Historical background

For Homer, asphodel is the plant of the Underworld. For the ancient Greeks, the Kingdom of the Dead was divided into three parts: the Tartarus for the wicked, the Elysian Fields for the good, and finally the asphodel meadows for those who had been neither good nor bad in life. Because of these and other beliefs, the Greeks used to plant asphodels on graves, considering the meadows of asphodels the sojourn of the dead. Epimenides, considered by some to be one of the seven wise men, used asphodel (and mallow) for its ability to ward off hunger and thirst. Plutarch tells us about this in the “Convocation of the Seven Wise Men.” Legend has it that Epimenides through the use of roots and herbs did not need to eat and lived 157 years