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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    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Asparagus officinalis Asparagus, Garden asparagus

Asparagus officinalis Asparagus, Garden asparagus


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Asparagus officinalis is a PERENNIAL growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 0.8 m (2ft 7in).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in August, and the seeds ripen from September to October. The species is 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 is 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: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly 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.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Shoots  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].

References   More on Edible Uses

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  Urinary

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].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


The plant contains asparagusic acid, which has nematocidal properties[238].

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

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. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 8 through 1. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is a clumper with limited spread [1-2]. The root pattern is rhizomatous with underground stems sending roots and shoots along their length [1-2].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant 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.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

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.

Raffi   Thu Mar 19 2009

Plants.am Asparagus cultivation information

Dosage, Warning and Side Effects.   Mar 10 2015 12:00AM

Loyola Medicine: Asparagus

   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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Subject : Asparagus officinalis  
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