Spikenard, also called nard, nardin, and muskroot, is a class of aromatic amber-colored essential oil derived from Nardostachys jatamansi, a flowering plant in the honeysuckle family which grows in the Himalayas of Nepal, China, and India. The oil has been used over centuries as a perfume, a traditional medicine, or in religious ceremonies across a wide territory from India to Europe. Historically, the name nard has also referred to essential oils derived from other species including the closely related valerian genus, as well as Spanish lavender; these cheaper, more common plants have been used in perfume-making, and sometimes to adulterate true spikenard.
Spikenard is mentioned in the Bible being used for its fragrance:
And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.— Mark 14:3 KJV
While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof. A bundle of myrrh is my wellbeloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts. My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi.— Song of Songs 1:12–14 KJV