Gamonite (Asphodelus albus)

Asphodelus albus, St. Joseph’s stick, gamoncillo or white gammon ( Asphodelus albus ) is a perennial herbaceous plant native to the Mediterranean region.



The gammon is a perennial plant with fleshy roots (tuber), belonging to the lily family and can reach one meter in height. Its leaves are basal, semi-cylindrical and the flowers are campanulate, markedly white, with a reddish line on the petals and sepals. The fruit has the shape of an ovoid capsule, located at the end of short peduncles, and are yellow-greenish in color that open in three parts when ripe, to free the seeds that are enclosed inside.

The gammon (A. albus) is a very common plant in our mountains and hills, growing wild in meadows and sunny plains of Spain, southern France and the Mediterranean coast to the Balkans, between sea level and 2,000 meters above sea level. It prefers limestone soils with sand, being markedly phytophilous.

Within the broad genus of gamones (Asphodelus) there are several species, all of them with mainly spring flowering and more rarely summer, being in all cases their flowers very showy and attractive, although they give off an odor that is not very pleasant. The best known species are: Asphodelus albus called white chamois, although Asphodelus lutea (yellow chamois), Asphodelus cerasiferus (cherry chamois), Asphodelus fistulosus (fistulous chamois), Asphodelus microcarpus (small-fruited chamois, also called small-fruited chamois), Asphodelus aestivus (summer chamois) and Asphodelus microcarpus (summer chamois), Asphodelus microcarpus (small-fruited chamois, also called gamoncillo), Asphodelus aestivus (summer chamois) and Asphodelus ramosus (gamón ramoso or gamonito), among the most popular species.

The generic name of this plant Asphodelus comes from the Latin words aspho and delus, which mean or can be translated as “divine talker” while albus means white in Latin, clearly alluding to the pure and immaculate white of its showy and showy flowers.

The chamois has the particularity that it is a plant that is not usually damaged by fire, nor is it eaten by livestock, so that grazing animals usually leave it intact in the meadows, which together with the fact that the chamois usually sprout vigorously in spring on land that appeared to have no life, even burned, taking place an explosive spring appearance in which literally break the ground its leaves that seem to pull out of the ground, It has been sought meanings since ancient times with the life after death, so it is included in the group of Mediterranean plants evocative of the world beyond, associating its presence with death and the transition to the extraterrestrial, so it was often present in funeral ceremonies.

The gammon reproduces in the vegetative rest period of the plant, by division of the root, in autumn, burying the roots between 7 and 8 cms. It can also reproduce by the numerous seeds it contains.

In ancient times it was collected to make glue, which has its origin in the Persian culture, which used it to make a strong glue with the ground bulbs mixed with water. In folk medicine its roots have been used to treat skin eczema and piles, for which a piece of fresh root was split and passed through the injured area, repeating it 7 or 8 times throughout the day, cutting each day a new slice of the tuber, to maintain its freshness, until it healed, although its main application is in natural gardens and to contain sandy slopes, where it grabs and survives easily, provided they have a minimum of nutrients.