Asparagus officinalis L. - Garden asparagus.
Taxonomic position.Family Asparagaceae Juss., genus Asparagus L.
Synonyms.A. altilis Aschers., A. hortensis Mill.
Morphology and biology.Herbaceous perennial plant 50-150 cm tall. Stem is erect, smooth with many branches; branches always form a sharp angle with the stem. Lateral twigs are flattened and substitute for the leaves reduced to squamae. From the axils branch thin, straight, filiform phyllocladia, 1-3 cm in length, set in bundles, 3-6 in each. The plant is dioecious. Flowers are settled in the axils of lateral twigs. Male flowers are 5 mm long, tubular, white or greenish yellow; female flowers are half this size. Its fruit is a berry of brick-red color, 8 mm in diameter. Blossoms beginning in mid-June. Berries ripen gradually. Cross-pollinated. Pollen is transported by insects, mainly bees, but wind pollination is also possible. Propagated by seed and by root fragmentation. 2n=20.
Distribution.Spread throughout Atlantic and Central Europe, the Balkan Mountains, central and southern areas of the European part of the former USSR, Crimea, the Caucasus, Western Siberia (mainly in the steppe and forest-steppe zones and Altai), Central Asia (more frequently in the northeast), Africa and Asia.
Ecology.Xerophyte. Photophilous. Grows in meadows, steppes and brushwood. Very sensitive to soil conditions; prefers porous, light-textured, sandy, sandy loam or loamy soils. Does not tolerate acidity in soil.
Utilization and economic value.For food (vegetable) and for ornamental purposes. Asparagus cultivation dates back as far as several thousand years ago. The juicy and fleshy young shoots that grow in the spring are edible. They have a pleasant taste and delicate aroma as a result of asparagines in the plant. The shoots of asparagus are eaten boiled and may be canned or frozen for future use. Well-developed asparagus shoots produce a beautiful tracery of verdure and often serve to decorate flowers bunches.
Reference citations:Girenko, M.M. & S.N. Shilova. 1988. Genus Asparagus L.-asparagus. In: Cultivated flora of the USSR: Leafy vegetable plants. V. 12. Leningrad: Agropromizdat. 6-29 pp. (In Russian)
Ilyin, M.M. 1935. Asparagus-Asparagus L. In: Flora of the USSR. V. 4. Leningrad: Publishing House of the USSR Academy of Sciences. 439-440 pp. (In Russian)
Randushka D., Shomshak L., Gaberova I. 1990. Color atlas of plants. Bratislava: Obzor Publishers. 33 p. (In Russian)