The Asafoetida Plant.

Botanical name: 

Asafoetida herba.

THIS is a Persian plant, and is a very tall and robust one. It grows to nine feet high, and the stalks are as thick as a child's leg; they are hollow and divided toward the tops into several branches. The leaves are very large, and composed of many smaller set upon a divided rib. They resemble in some degree the leaves of the piony. The large ones rise immediately from the root, and smaller of the same form stand at distances upon the stalks, one at each joint. The flowers are singly very small, but they stand in vast clusters or umbels at the tops of the stalks; and the seeds follow two after each flower; they are large, broad, and striated, and have the same smell with the gum, but not so strong. The root is very long and thick; it is black on the outside and white within, and is full of a thick juice of a strong smell, which, when hardened, is asafoetida such as we see.

No part of the plant is used but only this gum or hardened juice of the root. They cut off the top of the root and let the juice that rises from the wound dry. It becomes reddish on the outside and white within, and is the asafoetida of the shops. An excellent medicine in all nervous disorders; it may be given alone rolled up into pills, no way better.

The Family Herbal, 1812, was written by John Hill.