I recently started reading Margaret Atwood Penelopiad, which I'm planning to use as the June book of the month for the student services blog (expect a post in the coming week). Given the subject of the book, the following word crops up quite a bit.
- plants of the lily family mostly native to southern Europe (botanical).
Webster's College Dictionary adds "esp. the classic flower of death (A. lutea)"
The OED adds "The White Asphodel or King's Spear covers large tracts of land in Apulia, where its leaves afford good nourishment to sheep."
- a flower said to cover the Elysian fields (mythological), used often in poetry
A nice line from Tennyson: "Others in Elysian valleys dwell, Resting weary limbs at last on beds of asphodel" (from "The Lotos-Eaters").