Asphodelus albus
Common Name: white-flowered asphodel
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Xanthorrhoeaceae
Native Range: Europe
Zone: 6 to 8
Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.50 feet
Bloom Time: April to June
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Drought

Culture

Best grown in light, humusy, moderately fertile, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates part shade. Established plants have some drought tolerance. Not well adapted to the hot and humid summer climates of the deep South. Plants go deciduous (fade from the landscape) in summer after bloom.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Asphodelus albus, commonly known as white-flowered asphodel, is an herbaceous perennial which typically grows to 2-4’ tall with a spread to 2 1/2’ wide. It is native to the Mediterranean region from Spain to the Balkans and in northern Africa (primarily Libia).

Glaucous, linear, flat-but-keeled, somewhat fleshy, grass-like, blue green leaves (to 30” long and 7/8” wide) rise up from fleshy thickened roots to form a basal clump of foliage. Leafless flowering stems bear racemes of star-shaped, hermaphroditic, funnel-shaped, pink-veined white flowers (each flower to 1 5/8” diameter with 6 elongated petals/tepals) which bloom in mid to late spring (April – June). Flowers are followed by egg-shaped, yellow-green seed capsules (3/8” long).

Genus name comes from the Greek name for the true asphodel, Asphodelus ramosus and allied species.

Specific epithet from Latin means white in reference to flower color.

In Greek mythology, the asphodel flower (species decisions were not made in those days) was associated with mourning, the underworld and death. The souls of most deceased people went to Asphodel Fields which was the resting place for the mass of ordinary individuals who lived average lives. Asphodel was once believed to be a favorite food of the dead. In a more modern vein, Professor Snape informs Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone that powered root of asphodel is an ingredient in a sleeping potion known as the Draught of Living Death.

Problems

No significant insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Sunny borders. Foundations.