Herb: King's Spear

Latin name: Asphodeline lutea

Synonyms: Asphodelus luteus

Family: Asphodelaceae

Edible parts of King's Spear:

Root - roasted. This food was highly valued by the ancient Greeks, who roasted the roots like potatoes and ate them with salt and oil or mashed them with figs. The roots are not very thick but are abundantly produced and have a nice nutty flavour. They can be harvested at any time of the year, but are best used when the plant is dormant in late summer and early autumn. They do not store well and should be used within a few weeks of harvest. Young shoots - cooked. They smell less than pleasant whilst cooking but have a fairly bland flavour. Some people find that they have a very pleasant flavour. The plant comes into growth in late summer and the autumn, the young shoots can be harvested in moderation all through the winter. Flowers - raw. A delightful sweetness, they are a very decorative and tasty addition to the salad bowl but should be used as soon as possible after harvesting because they soon start to decompose. The flowers are very short-lived and are best picked in the late afternoon - thus you can enjoy them visually during the day and gastronomically in the evening. There is also said to be a double-flowered form, which will have twice the quantity of petals, though we do not know its name.

Description of the plant:


100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)

to July


Habitat of the herb:

Dry grassland, rocky and stony places, usually on limestone.

Propagation of King's Spear:

Seed - sow March/April in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. Germination usually takes place in 1 - 3 months at 15C. Once the seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring. Division in spring or autumn, with care since the roots are easily damaged. Ensure each division has at least one growing bud. Large divisions can be planted out straight into their permanent positions, smaller ones are best potted up until they are growing away strongly and can then be panted out. We have found that this plant can be successfully divided throughout the growing season so long as it is watered in dry weather.

Cultivation of the herb:

Dry grassland, rocky and stony places, usually on limestone.

Medicinal use of King's Spear:

None known

Known hazards of Asphodeline lutea:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.