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Asparagus officinalis

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
ah-SPAIR-ah-gus oh-fiss-ih-NAH-liss
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Asparagus is a long-lived perennial vegetable that is native to Europe, Africa and Asia but it has naturalized in the United States and is often found along roadsides and ditches. It has rhizomatous roots.  Erect, perennial herb, thick, succulent, and unbranched when young; leaves alternate, scale-like and often spiny, terminal branchlets very narrow and needle-like, clustered; flowers axillary, drooping, 6-parted, bell-shaped, yellow-green; fruit a bright red berry.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Common insect problems include asparagus beetle, spotted asparagus beetle, and aphids.  Common disease problems include fusarium, rust, and needle blight. Consider planting resistant varieties and remove all leaves after fall die back.  

Asparagus- Latin for the plant sperage.

officinalis-Latin for sold as an herb or used in medicine.

 

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Edibles, Bulbs, and Houseplants" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.   

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Vegetable Garden and Pollinator Plants
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Jersey Giant'
    High yields and large spears. Resistant to rust and fusarium.
  • 'Mary Washington'
    Heavy yield, dark green shoots
  • 'Purple Passion'
    Purple (fades to green when cooked); sweet/less stringy, excellent raw. Resistance rust/fusarium/crown rot
'Jersey Giant', 'Mary Washington', 'Purple Passion'
Tags:
#edible plant#fine texture#showy fruits#vegetable garden#red fruits#cold hardy#vegetable#edible stems#border back#cool season vegetable#fall color yellow#ebh-vh#ebh
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Jersey Giant'
    High yields and large spears. Resistant to rust and fusarium.
  • 'Mary Washington'
    Heavy yield, dark green shoots
  • 'Purple Passion'
    Purple (fades to green when cooked); sweet/less stringy, excellent raw. Resistance rust/fusarium/crown rot
'Jersey Giant', 'Mary Washington', 'Purple Passion'
Tags:
#edible plant#fine texture#showy fruits#vegetable garden#red fruits#cold hardy#vegetable#edible stems#border back#cool season vegetable#fall color yellow#ebh-vh#ebh
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Asparagus
    Species:
    officinalis
    Family:
    Asparagaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Europe, Asia, North Africa
    Play Value:
    Textural
    Wildlife Food Source
    Edibility:
    Young spears (shoots). Harvest time: collect asparagus spears in the early spring, while very young. Only collect spears from areas you know have NOT been treated with pesticides. Safe handling procedures: wash spears thoroughly with warm water to remove dirt and debris. Do not use dish detergent or any type of sanitizer. These products can leave a residue. Peel off the outer skin to within an inch of the top of the spear. Tie spears into bundles (about eight to a bundle) and place lengthwise into boiling salted water. Boil for about 10 minutes until tender, but not soggy. Serve hot with melted butter, or cold with oil and vinegar and seasonings.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 3 ft. 0 in. - 5 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 6 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Poisonous
    Vegetable
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Multi-stemmed
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Description:
    In late summer, female plants produce ornamental red berries that are hard and shiny.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Petals:
    Tepals
    Flower Description:
    The flowers develop as hermaphrodites and mature to become unisexual. Both male and female flowers produce small, yellow-green tepals In June or July.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Soft
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Whorled
    Leaf Shape:
    Linear
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    Soft, feathery, needle-like leaves arranged in whorls.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Round
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Surface:
    Covered with a powdery bloom (glaucous)
    Stem Description:
    Young shoots are thick and stand upright. They are green or purple in color with triangular bracts along the stem. As the stems mature they become thin and multi-branched.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Landscape Theme:
    Edible Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Small groups
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Salt
    Problems:
    Contact Dermatitis
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    CAUSES ONLY LOW TOXICITY IF EATEN. SKIN IRRITATION MINOR OR LASTING ONLY FOR A FEW MINUTES. Contact dermatitis from young, raw shoots; eating of berries may cause gastrointestinal problems
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Unknown
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    Yes
    Poison Part:
    Fruits
    Stems