Botanical Name :Asparagus officinalis
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Asparagoideae
Genus:     Asparagus
Species: A. officinalis
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade:     Angiosperms
Clade:     Monocots
Order:     Asparagales

Common Names: Asparagus,

Habitat : Asparagus officinalis is native to most of Europe, northern Africa and western Asia, and is widely cultivated as a vegetable crop.

(Plants native to the western coasts of Europe (from northern Spain north to Ireland, Great Britain, and northwest Germany) are treated as Asparagus officinalis subsp. prostratus (Dumort.) Corb., distinguished by its low-growing, often prostrate stems growing to only 30–70 cm (12–28 in) high, and shorter cladodes 2–18 mm (0.079–0.709 in) long. It is treated as a distinct species, Asparagus prostratus Dumort, by some authors.A remarkable adaptation is the edible asparagus, while in the Macaronesian Islands several species, (A. umbellatus, A. scoparius, etc.), are preserved the original form, a leafy vine; in the Mediterranean, the asparagus genus has evolved into thorny species.)

Asparagus  is a spring vegetable, a flowering perennial plant species in the genus Asparagus. It was once classified in the lily family, like its Allium cousins, onions and garlic, but the Liliaceae have been split and the onion-like plants are now in the family.

It is a herbaceous, perennial plant growing to 100–150 centimetres (39–59 in) tall, with stout stems with much-branched feathery foliage. The “leaves” are in fact needle-like cladodes (modified stems) in the axils of scale leaves; they are 6–32 mm (0.24–1.26 in) long and 1 mm (0.039 in) broad, and clustered 4–15 together. The root system is adventitious and the root type is fasciculated. The flowers are bell-shaped, greenish-white to yellowish, 4.5–6.5 mm (0.18–0.26 in) long, with six tepals partially fused together at the base; they are produced singly or in clusters of two or three in the junctions of the branchlets. It is usually dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate plants, but sometimes hermaphrodite flowers are found. The fruit is a small red berry 6–10 mm diameter, which is poisonous to humans.

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Asparagus is a type of vegetable obtained from one particular species of the many within the genus Asparagus, specifically the young shoots of Asparagus officinalis. It has been used from very early times as a culinary vegetable, owing to its delicate flavour and diuretic properties

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This well-known table delicacy may be found wild on the sea-coast in the South-west of England, especially near the Lizard, in the Isle of Anglesea, otherwise it is a rare native. In the southern parts of Russia and Poland the waste steppes are covered with this plant, which is there eaten by horses and cattle as grass. It is also common in Greece, and was formerly much esteemed as a vegetable by the Greeks and Romans. It appears to have been cultivated in the time of Cato the Elder, 200 years B.C., and Pliny mentions a species that grew near Ravenna, of which three heads would weigh a pound.

White asparagus is cultivated by denying the plants light and increasing the amount of ultraviolet light exposed to the plants while they are being grown. Purple asparagus differs from its green and white counterparts, having high sugar and low fibre levels. Purple asparagus was originally developed in Italy and commercialised under the variety name Violetto d’Albenga. Since then, breeding work has continued in countries such as the United States and New Zealand.

Prussian Asparagus, which is brought to some English markets, is not a species of Asparagus at all, but consists of the spikes of Ornithogalum pyrenaicum, which grows abundantly in hedges and pastures

White asparagus (left) and green asparagus (right

As Food & Vegetable
In their simplest form, the shoots are boiled or steamed until tender and served with a light sauce like hollandaise or melted butter or a drizzle of olive oil with a dusting of Parmesan cheese. A refinement is to tie the shoots into sheaves and stand them so that the lower part of the stalks are boiled, while the more tender heads are steamed. Tall cylindrical asparagus cooking pots have liners with handles and perforated bases to make this process foolproof.

Unlike most vegetables, where the smaller and thinner are the more tender, thick asparagus stalks have more tender volume to the proportion of skin. When asparagus have been too long in the market, the cut ends will have dried and gone slightly concave. Meticulous cooks scrape asparagus stalks with a vegetable peeler, stroking away from the head, and refresh them in ice-cold water before steaming them; the peel is often added back to the cooking water and removed only after the asparagus is done, this is supposed to prevent diluting the flavor. Small or full-sized stalks can be made into asparagus soup. Cantonese restaurants in the United States often serve asparagus stir-fried with chicken, shrimp, or beef, also wrapped in bacon. Asparagus may also be quickly grilled over charcoal or hardwood embers, for an infusion of smoke flavor. Asparagus is one of few foods which is considered acceptable to eat with the hands in polite company, although this is more common in Europe.

Chemical Constituents:
Certain compounds in asparagus are metabolized to yield ammonia and various sulfur-containing degradation products, including various thiols and thioesters, which give urine a characteristic smell.

Some of the volatile organic compounds responsible for the smell are:

*dimethyl sulfide
*dimethyl disulfide
*dimethyl sulfoxide
*dimethyl sulfone

Medicinal Action and Uses:—The virtues of Asparagus are well known as a diuretic and laxative; and for those of sedentary habits who suffer from symptoms of gravel, it has been found very beneficial, as well as in cases of dropsy. The fresh expressed juice is taken medicinally in tablespoonful doses.

Asparagus is one of the more nutritionally valuable vegetables. It is the best vegetable provider of folic acid. Folic acid is necessary for blood cell formation and growth, as well as liver disease prevention. Folic acid is also important for pregnant women as it aids in the prevention of neural tube defects such as spina bifida in the developing fetus. Asparagus is very low in calories, contains no fat or cholesterol, and is very low in sodium. Asparagus is a great source of potassium, fiber, and rutin, a compound that strengthens the walls of capillaries.

Asparagus rhizomes and roots are used ethnomedically to treat urinary tract infections, as well as kidney and bladder stones.

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The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

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