Asparagus officinalis (Garden Asparagus)

Plant Info
Also known as: Common Asparagus
Genus:Asparagus
Family:Asparagaceae (Asparagus)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:Europe
Status:
  • Weedy
Habitat:part shade, sun; fields, open woods, along roads
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:2 to 7 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 6-petals

[photo of flowers] 1 to 3 flowers arise from the leaf axils in the upper part of the plant. Individual flowers are about ¼ inch long, bell-shaped with 6 pale yellow to greenish tepals (petals), 6 orange-tipped stamens, on a slender stalk up to an inch long.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound

[photo of leaves] Leaves are compound and feathery, with soft, needle-shaped leaflets about 1 inch long grouped in clusters of up to 5, alternately attached. The stems are many branched, slender and weak, sometimes erect but often drooping.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a shiny red berry ¼ to 1/3 inch in diameter, containing up to 6 seeds. The berries persist through the winter.

Notes:

This is the same asparagus you can find at your local grocer; it escaped cultivation and has become naturalized throughout much of the U.S., often in the part shade of open woods and woodland edges. Asparagus sprouts up in early spring, and that's the best time to harvest the tasty shoots.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Bailey - Excelsior
on: 2013-06-20 18:43:43

Asparagus grows all along the open areas along the bike/walking trail in Excelsior and in a few other spots in people's yards. My grandma, who grew up in the area, remembers picking wild asparagus from the same spots (it was a railroad track back then) back in the 1930s. So, asparagus has been established locally for a long time.

Posted by: Kevin - Whitewater State Park
on: 2016-06-12 11:14:18

Does it seem strange that I would have found some of this growing on the top of a bluff on Dakota Trail? I am certain that it was asparagus, just seemed an odd place to find it growing.

Posted by: Dawn - Grey Cloud Dunes Scientific and Natural Area
on: 2017-10-21 10:40:19

Striking and outstanding yellow fall color in a patch along the path from the western parking lot.

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