[Heb., nerd; Gr., narʹdos].
A small aromatic plant (Nardostachys jatamansi) found in the Himalaya Mountains. The stems and roots of this plant are generally considered the source of the nard or spikenard mentioned in Scripture. (Ca 1:12; 4:13, 14; Mr 14:3) The spikenard plant is distinguished by its clusters of blackish, hairy stems, about 5 cm (2 in.) long, that branch out from the top of the root. The leaves sprout from the upper portion of the plant, which is terminated by heads of pink flowers.
To preserve its fragrance, nard, a light, fragrant, reddish-colored liquid, was sealed in cases of alabaster, a soft, usually whitish, marblelike stone named after Alabastron, Egypt, where vessels of this material were manufactured. The pound of perfumed oil, “genuine nard,” poured by Mary from an alabaster case upon the head and feet of Jesus Christ, ‘in view of his burial,’ was evaluated at 300 denarii, the equivalent of about a year’s wages. (Mr 14:3-9; Joh 12:3-8; Mt 20:2) The fact that this perfumed oil was so expensive suggests that its source may have been distant India.