"For your information, Potter, asphodel and wormwood make a sleeping potion so powerful it is known as the Draught of Living Death."
-- Severus Snape during Harry's first Potions lesson (PS8)
Effect: Causes someone to fall into a deep sleep.
First potion brewed in Slughorn's sixth-year N.E.W.T. Potions class. Instructions for brewing this potion can be found in Advanced Potion-Making starting on page 10, but the textbook's uncorrected instructions do not cover the most effective way of squeezing the juice out of the sopophorous beans (crushing with the flat side of a silver dagger rather than cutting) and do not indicate that a clockwise stir should be added after every seventh counter-clockwise stir. While brewing, the potion releases blue steam. The ideal halfway stage should be of a blackcurrant colour (deep purple), although at a later stage if stirred properly the potion will turn a light shade of lilac and then, eventually, "clear as water" (HBP9).
References from the canon
- One of Snape's first three questions to Harry in first-year Potions (PS8)
- In Sixth year, Harry makes the potion correctly using Snape's notations in the Half-Blood Prince Potions book, for which he wins Felix Felicis, or "liquid luck," from Slughorn, who then tells Harry he has his mother's potions skills (HBP9).
- The antidote is the Wiggenweld Potion, discovered by a wizarding Prince who put it on his lips to awaken a princess put to sleep by the Hag Leticia Somnolens (FW).
Severus Snape and Horace Slughorn each had a soft spot for Harry's mother Lily, and both interacted with Harry over the Draught of Living Death, a potion which includes a lily -- asphodel.
Since the Draught of Living Death puts someone into a deep trance-like sleep, there is a connection to the story of Sleeping Beauty, who only appeared to be dead but was brought back to life by the kiss of a Prince. Snape was the Half-Blood Prince, but sadly for him and for Harry all the Wiggenweld Potion in the world wouldn't have brought Lily back to life.