Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Western Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Asparagus officinalis L.
- Family: Lily (Liliaceae)
- Flowering: July-August
- Field Marks: This escape from gardens is easily recognized by its clustered thread-like branches that resemble small, needle-like leaves.
- Habitat: Disturbed areas, particularly along drainages.
- Habit: Perennial herb with densely crowded, somewhat fleshy rhizomes.
- Stems: Upright, unbranched at first but becoming branched, up to 7 1/2 feet tall, smooth.
- Leaves: All reduced to scales, the scales up to 1/4 inch long on the unbranched stems, up to 1/8 inch long on the branched stems; thread-like "leaves" are actually reduced branches up to 1 inch long.
- Flowers: Borne singly in the axils of the thread-like branches, on slender, drooping stalks up to 1 inch long, each flower bell-shaped.
- Sepals and Petals: 6, all alike, divided nearly all the way to the base, up to 1/3 inch long.
- Stamens: 6, each attached to the base of the sepals and petals.
- Pistils: Ovary superior; stigmas 3.
- Fruits: Berries spherical, up to 1/3 inch in diameter, red.
- Notes: This species is not a fern, despite the common name. This is the same plant that is eaten as a garden vegetable.
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