Ferula assafoetida is an herbaceous, monoecious, perennial plant of the UMBEL-LIFERAE family. It grows to 2 m high with a circular mass of leaves. Flowering stems are 2.5–3 m high and 10 cm thick, with a number of schizogenous ducts in the cortex containing the resinous gum. Stem leaves have wide sheathing petioles. Compound large umbels arise from large sheaths. Flowers are pale greenish yellow. Fruits are oval, flat, thin, reddish brown and have a milky juice. Roots are thick, massive, and pulpy. It yields a resin similar to that of the stems. All parts of the plant have the distinctive fetid smell.
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