Asparagus (genus)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Asparagus setaceus
Asparagus tubers
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Asparagoideae
Genus: Asparagus
Type species

Asparagus officinalis

  • Elid Medik.
  • Myrsiphyllum Willd.
  • Asparagopsis (Kunth) Kunth
  • Hecatris Salisb.
  • Elachanthera F.Muell.
  • Protasparagus Oberm.

Asparagus is a genus of flowering plants in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Asparagoideae.[2] It comprises up to 300 species. Most are evergreen long-lived perennial plants growing from the understory as lianas, bushes or climbing plants. The best-known species is the edible Asparagus officinalis, commonly referred to as just asparagus. Some other members of the genus, such as Asparagus densiflorus, are grown as ornamental plants.


The genus includes a variety of living forms, occurring from rainforest to semi-desert habitats; many are climbing plants. Most are dispersed by birds.[citation needed]

Ornamental species such as Asparagus plumosus, Asparagus aethiopicus, Asparagus setaceus, and Asparagus virgatus are finely branched and are misleadingly known as "asparagus fern".

In the Macaronesian Islands, several species (such as Asparagus umbellatus and Asparagus scoparius) grow in moist laurel forest habitat, and preserve the original form[citation needed] of a leafy vine. In the drier Mediterranean climate the asparagus genus evolved in the Tertiary into thorny, drought-adapted species.[citation needed] Root tubers are storage organs developed by Asparagus species and are a valuable source of moisture and nutrition for species growing under drought conditions.[3]

Many species, particularly from Africa, were once included in separate genera such as Protasparagus and Myrsiphyllum. However, partly in response to the implications of the discovery of new species, those genera have been reunited under Asparagus.[4] Species in this genus vary in their appearance, from unarmed herbs to wiry, woody climbers with formidable hooked spines that earn them vernacular names such as "cat thorn" and "wag 'n bietjie" (literally "wait a bit").[5] Most species have photosynthetic flattened stems, called phylloclades, instead of true leaves. Asparagus officinalis, Asparagus schoberioides, and Asparagus cochinchinensis are dioecious species, with male and female flowers on separate plants.

Selected species[edit]

As of September 2014, the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families accepts 212 species of Asparagus, including:[6]

Pests and diseases[edit]

Invasive species[edit]

A. asparagoides, known as bridal creeper, is a problematic weed in southern Australia.[10][11]

Asparagus asparagoides, A. scandens and A. setaceus are considered potentially destructive in California, growing as the result of escaped seeds; all can still be purchased at major and local garden centers. All three have the ability to completely overtake other, unrelated plants in their immediate surroundings, often climbing up the larger ones and strangling them, eventually cutting off the plant's flow of energy and nutrients. Birds are attracted to the red berries after blooming, thus transporting their seeds.

Asparagus asparagoides, A. aethiopicus (under the name A. densiflorus) and A. scandens are listed on the New Zealand National Pest Plant Accord since they are invasive plants.

A. setaceus is officially recognized as an invasive species in Rio Grande do Sul State, Brazil.[12]



  1. ^ "Plants of the World Online | Kew Science". Plants of the World Online. Retrieved 11 April 2023.
  2. ^ Chase, M.W.; Reveal, J.L. & Fay, M.F. (2009), "A subfamilial classification for the expanded asparagalean families Amaryllidaceae, Asparagaceae and Xanthorrhoeaceae", Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 161 (2): 132–136, doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00999.x
  3. ^ "Asparagus densiflorus plant suitable for green roof".
  4. ^ Malcomber, S. T.; Demissew, Sebsebe (1993). "The Status of Protasparagus and Myrsiphyllum in the Asparagaceae". Kew Bulletin. 48 (1): 63–78. doi:10.2307/4115749. JSTOR 4115749.
  5. ^ Marloth, Rudolf. “The Flora of South Africa” 1932 Pub. Cape Town: Darter Bros. London: Wheldon & Wesley.
  6. ^ "Asparagus", World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, retrieved 2014-09-01
  7. ^ Lee DY, Choo BK, Yoon T, Cheon MS, Lee HW, Lee AY, Kim HK (12 January 2009). "Anti-inflammatory effects of Asparagus cochinchinensis extract in acute and chronic cutaneous inflammation". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 121 (1): 28–24. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2008.07.006. PMID 18691647.
  8. ^ Biosecurity SA : Declared plants in South Australia 2014 Accessed 1 September 2014.
  9. ^ "Plants of the World Online | Kew Science". Plants of the World Online. Retrieved 11 April 2023.
  10. ^ "bridal creeper". weed of the month. CRC weed management. Archived from the original on 2005-12-15. Retrieved 2006-04-30.
  11. ^ "Bridal creeper, Asparagus asparagoides". CSIRO Division of Entomology. Archived from the original on 9 May 2006. Retrieved 2006-04-30.
  12. ^ "Portaria Sema 79 de-2013 especies exoticas invasoras" (PDF). SEMA (in Portuguese). Retrieved 11 April 2023.


  • Fellingham, A.C. & Meyer, N.L. (1995) "New combinations and a complete list of Asparagus species in southern Africa (Asparagaceae)". Bothalia 25: 205-209.

External links[edit]