Garden Asparagus - Asparagus officinalis



Scientific Name: Asparagus officinalis - 'officinalis' indicates the plant was considered to have a medicinal use.

English Name: Garden Asparagus

French Name: Asperge


5 Key Characters:
  • smooth sturdy erect stems, with many fine branches, to 1 m, emerging in April.
  • green feathery 'leaves' (actually modified stems).
  • bell shaped greenish yellow flowers.
  • red berries.
  • edible.
Lookalikes: other Asparagus spp - there are 6 in France, but most are rare and / or restricted to the south. Wild Asparagus A. prostratus is restricted to a few sites on the Atlantic coast, prostrate and has blue green 'leaves'. Do not confuse with Spiked Star of Bethlehem (aka Bath Asparagus) Ornithogalum pyrenaicum - the flower buds bear a superficial resemblance to Garden Asparagus shoots and are sometimes prepared and eaten as 'wild asparagus'.

Habitat: This is a Mediterranean plant which has naturalised from gardens. There may be a few sandy areas where it occurs naturally. Often appears on waste ground.

Flowering Period: June-July-August-September.

Status: Quite common as a naturalised garden escapee. Very rare otherwise.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:



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