Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)

Wild asparagus plantsThe spring growth of this edible plant resembles a cluster of green fingers. The mature plant has fernlike, wispy foliage and red berries. Its flowers are small and greenish in color. Several species have sharp, thornlike structures.  The plant grows from 39-59 inches tall with stout stems and a feathery foliage.  The flowers are bell-shaped, greenish-white to yellowish and less than a quarter inch long.  The fruit is a small red berry which is poisonous to humans.

Asparagus plants growing in the wildWhere to Find: Asparagus is found worldwide in temperate areas. Look for it in fields, old homesites, and fencerows.

Edible Parts: Eat the young stems before leaves form (older stems turn woody). Stem thickness indicates the age of the plant which thicker stems coming from the older, woodier plants (sometimes the skin can be peeled at the base to remove this tough layer).  Steam or boil them for 10 to 15 minutes before eating. Raw asparagus may cause nausea or diarrhea. The fleshy roots are a good source of starch.

Asparagus line drawingOther Uses: Water from cooking asparagus may help clean blemishes on the face and helpful in dissolving uric acid (which causes gout)

WARNING Do not eat the fruits of any since some are toxic.

Asparagus red fruit should not be eaten

Asparagus plants in the wild showing small red fruit

Asparagus flower

Cultivated Asparagus in a garden

Close-up of Asparagus stems and leaves

Close-up of Asparagus flowers and stems

Asparagus turns yellow and brown in the fall

Asparagus farm

Close-up of Asparagus stalks

Young Asparagus sprouting

Asparagus drawing showing plant components

Color Asparagus drawing showing plant components