April 23, 2017

Not-So-Lonely Asparagus

Asparagus officinalis - asparagus  | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

Asparagus officinalis – asparagus | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

When a plant has been cultivated for thousands of years, it might not be surprising to find it growing anywhere conditions are good. Such is the case with Asparagus officinalis, best known as asparagus. The spring vegetable is native to much of Europe and parts of Africa and Asia. It is an introduced plant in the continental United States, found in all of the lower 48. Asparagus is grown for its tender young shoots in spring, which are a commercial crop in the U.S. According to Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, depictions of the plant have been found on Egyptian tombs dating from the 4th century B.C., while its name is from the Greek asparagos meaning sprout or shoot. The Latin officinalis means ‘of the dispensary,’ pointing to its medicinal properties, including as a diuretic.

Wild Wednesday is a collaboration of Garden Maine and Glen Mittelhauser of the nonprofit Maine Natural History Observatory, www.mainenaturalhistory.org.

In 2012, Glen began working to catalog the plants of Baxter State Park, which you can read about here and find out how to sponsor a plant of your own. Courtesy of a poll taken in 2012, Garden Maine is sponsoring this lovely plant.