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Ferula foetida - L.

Common Name Asafoetida - Devil's Dung. Hing (Indian), Asafetida
Family Apiaceae or Umbelliferae
USDA hardiness 7-10
Known Hazards Do not use orally. Avoid during pregnancy as possible increased bleeding. Topical use may cause skin irritation [301].
Habitats Deserts[74].
Range W. Asia - Afghanistan to Iran.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Frost Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Ferula foetida Asafoetida - Devil


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Ferula foetida Asafoetida - Devil
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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Ferula foetida is a PERENNIAL growing to 2 m (6ft) by 1.5 m (5ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 8. It is in flower in July. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

Synonyms

Ferula foetida. Ferula hooshee

Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses: Condiment;  Gum.

Leaves and young shoots - cooked as a vegetable[2, 4, 177, 183]. The plant has a foetid odour, but this disappears when it is boiled[2]. The cabbage-like folded heads are eaten raw as a delicacy[183]. Root - cooked[2, 4]. It needs to be steeped in order to remove a bitterness[74]. A starch extracted from the roots is used to make a porridge[74]. A gum-resin from the root is used as a food flavouring[171]. It is an essential ingredient of Worcester sauce, it is also used to flavour a wide range of dishes and drinks[183]. It is popular in natural food cuisine as a garlic substitute[183]. The resin obtained from this plant is probably the foulest-smelling of all herbs, with a sulphurous garlic-like odour[7, 238]. It is so nauseating to some people that it has been nicknamed 'dung of the devil'[7]. However, in judicious quantities it gives a surprisingly pleasant flavour to many foods[238].

Medicinal Uses



Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antiasthmatic;  Antispasmodic;  Carminative;  Expectorant;  Laxative;  Sedative.

Asafoetida is a very effective medicinal herb that acts mainly on the digestive system, cleansing and strengthening the gastro-intestinal tract[238]. It is much used in the Ayurvedic tradition[238]. The gum-resin contains a volatile oil that is as persistent in aroma as garlic. They leave the body via the respiratory system and aid the coughing up of congested mucous[254]. The pungently flavoured gum-resin that is obtained from the root is alterative, anthelmintic, antiperiodic, antispasmodic, carminative, deobstruent, deodorant, expectorant, laxative, sedative and stomachic[7, 21, 176, 218]. It is used in the treatment of simple digestive problems such as wind, bloating, indigestion and constipation, and also for respiratory problems such as bronchitis, bronchial asthma and whooping cough[254]. It is also used as a circulatory stimulant, lowering blood pressure and thinning the blood[7, 21, 165, 176, 254]. The resin has a synergistic effect on other herbal preparations such as camphor, valerian and nux-vomica[7]. It is used in tincture as a mild cardio-tonic[7]. As an aphrodisiac [301]. See below under 'Uses notes' for details on harvesting the resin.

Other Uses

Essential;  Gum.

A gum-resin is obtained from incisions in the roots and rhizomes[114]. The stem is removed at the end of the growing season, the root uncovered and a thin slice removed[74]. Another report says that the stem is removed as the plant starts to flower[238]. The gum exudes and hardens and a fresh slice is then made[74]. The gum should be stored in an air-tight container to prevent its strong flavour contaminating nearby substances[238]. The gum is a source of an essential oil which has medicinal properties and is also used as a food flavouring and in perfumery[46, 57, 61].

Cultivation details

Succeeds in most soils[1]. Prefers a deep fertile soil in a sunny position[200]. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c[200]. Plants have a long taproot and are intolerant of root disturbance[200]. They should be planted into their final positions as soon as possible. Monocarpic, the plant takes some years before it flowers and dies after flowering[74]. In Britain, the plants usually flower after about 5 years[238]. The whole plant, especially when bruised, has an unpleasant smell like stale fish[245].

Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as the seed is ripe in a greenhouse in autumn[1]. Otherwise sow in April in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle. Plant them out into their permanent positions whilst still small because the plants dislike root disturbance[1]. Give the plants a protective mulch for at least their first winter outdoors. Division in autumn. This may be inadvisable due to the plants dislike of root disturbance.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants

 

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Expert comment

Author

L.

Botanical References

74200

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Connie   Tue Dec 20 2005

I have heard that Worcestershire sauce which has this herb in it is good for colicing horses. Is this true?

Dr. med. Veronika Rampold   Fri Dec 23 2005

Asa foetida resin is used in Homeopathy for flatulence in people who have the habit of swallowing air, and loud eructations of nervous origin, also in certain kinds of colic. But I doubt whether Worcestershire sauce ist efficient in animal´s colics just because of asafoetida, and if I had a colicking horse I wouls prefer much to give the pure resin to it, in size of a hazelnut perhaps, but not that spice mixture. With regard to potentised remedies the best proven one in horse´s colic is Colocynth C 30, five globules with water in a beer-bottle for pouring into mouth. Of course, covering and leading animal round, this is said to be indispensable in all cases of horse colic.

Graham, Sydney Australia   Sun Dec 3 2006

After another dreadful night of painful cramps in the leg muscles I described my experience to a friend who is a retired professional wrestler. He told me that painful cramps are common amongst wrestlers and that the most effective fast-working remedy used by he and his cronies was a tablespoon of worcester sauce. Reading on this site that ferula foetida is an antispasmodic probably bears this out, plus I'm willing to trust him so I'll be keeping a bottle and tablespoon by the bedside - just in case!

zahrah nasir   Sat Mar 17 2007

Has anyone out there ever come across the practise of inserting asafoetida in to the trunks of fruit trees, in early spring when the sap is rising, to control/exterminate insect pests. I can confirm that it works on apple, walnut and orange trees.

Sheila Hope-Harewood   Tue Dec 2 2008

Hi there. I would dearly love to plant some Ferula foetida. Can you PLEASE tell me where I can obtain some seeds? I look forward to your reply. Sheila

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