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Asparagus officinalis - L.                
                 
Common Name Asparagus, Garden asparagus
Family Asparagaceae
USDA hardiness 2-9
Known Hazards Large quantities of the shoots can irritate the kidneys[20, 62]. The berries are mildly poisonous[163].
Habitats Fertile and sandy soils by the seashore and along river banks[9, 132].
Range Western Europe, including Britain, from N. Germany to S. W. France.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Summary

Asparagus officinalis Asparagus, Garden asparagus


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Illustration_Asparagus_officinalis0_clean.jpg
Asparagus officinalis Asparagus, Garden asparagus
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Asparagus_officinalis_002.JPG
   
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Asparagus officinalis is a PERENNIAL growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 0.8 m (2ft 7in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in August, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Bees.The plant is not self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid, very alkaline and saline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

Synonyms
Habitats
 Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Stem.
Edible Uses: Coffee.

Young shoots - raw or cooked[2, 5, 15, 16, 27, K]. Considered a gourmet food[132], the shoots are harvested in the spring. We find them very acceptable raw in salads, with a hint of onion in their flavour[K]. They are normally boiled or steamed and used as a vegetable[K]. Male plants produce the best shoots[1]. Do not over-harvest the plant because this would weaken it in the following year. The shoots are a good source of protein and dietary fibre[201]. Roasted seeds are a coffee substitute[21, 46, 183].
Composition
Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Stem (Fresh weight)
  • 26 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 91.7%
  • Protein: 2.5g; Fat: 0.2g; Carbohydrate: 5g; Fibre: 0.7g; Ash: 0.6g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 22mg; Phosphorus: 62mg; Iron: 1mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 2mg; Potassium: 278mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 540mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.18mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0.2mg; Niacin: 1.5mg; B6: 0mg; C: 33mg;
  • Reference: [ 218]
  • Notes:
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antibiotic;  Antispasmodic;  Aperient;  Cancer;  Cardiac;  Demulcent;  Diaphoretic;  Diuretic;  Laxative;  Sedative;  Tonic.


Asparagus has been cultivated for over 2,000 years as a vegetable and medicinal herb[238]. Both the roots and the shoots can be used medicinally, they have a restorative and cleansing effect on the bowels, kidneys and liver[238]. The plant is antispasmodic, aperient, cardiac, demulcent, diaphoretic, diuretic, sedative and tonic[4, 21, 165, 201, 240]. The freshly expressed juice is used[4]. The root is diaphoretic, strongly diuretic and laxative[9, 218, 222]. An infusion is used in the treatment of jaundice and congestive torpor of the liver[240]. The strongly diuretic action of the roots make it useful in the treatment of a variety of urinary problems including cystitis[254]. It is also used in the treatment of cancer[218]. The roots are said to be able to lower blood pressure[7, 222]. The roots are harvested in late spring, after the shoots have been cut as a food crop, and are dried for later use[7]. The seeds possess antibiotic activity[222]. Another report says that the plant contains asparagusic acid which is nematocidal and is used in the treatment of schistosomiasis[238].
Other Uses
Insecticide.

The plant contains asparagusic acid, which has nematocidal properties[238].
Cultivation details
Easily grown in any good garden soil[16]. Prefers a rich well-drained sandy loam and a sunny position[1, 16, 27, 238]. Prefers a pH of 6.5 or higher[200], though it tolerates a pH in the range 4.3 to 8.2. Asparagus is often cultivated as a luxury vegetable, there are some named varieties[16, 183]. Well-tended plants can be long-lived, an asparagus bed can last for well over 20 years. Asparagus is a good companion plant for tomatoes, parsley and basil[18, 20, 201]. When grown together, tomatoes help to protect asparagus from the asparagus beetle[201]. Asparagus is said to repel the nematodes that can infect tomatoes[201] (see the report below on the plants other uses). A good bee plant[108]. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.
Propagation
Seed - pre-soak for 12 hours in warm water and then sow in spring or as soon as the seed is ripe in early autumn in a greenhouse. It usually germinates in 3 - 6 weeks at 25°c[134]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a sunny position in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer[K]. Division in early spring as the plant comes into growth.
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Expert comment
 
      
Author
L.
Botanical References
17200
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
Readers comment
 
Elizabeth H.
Dr. Syed Rafatullah Sun Jul 1 2007
Very informative,useful with authentic references page, but lacking some recent or previous scintific studies carried out on this plant.All my appreciations for good work. Dr.Syed Rafatullah, BMUS;MD(Unani Medicine);DHom;MFHom. Asst.Researcher, Medicinal, Aromatic and Poisonous Plants Research center, College of Pharmacy,P.O.Box 2457 King Saud University, RIYADH 11451, Saudi Arabia.
Elizabeth H.
Raffi Thu Mar 19 2009

Plants.am Asparagus cultivation information

Ellen H.
Dosage, Warning and Side Effects. Mar 10 2015 12:00AM
Loyola Medicine: Asparagus
Irvine H.
May 12 2016 12:00AM
About the soil: Asparagus needs to be top-dressed every spring for an excellent growth. Also a phosphorus rich soil(bone meal would do) is essential.
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