E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Asparagus officinalis L.
garden asparagus
Asparagaceae
(Previously in Liliaceae)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Larry Halverson  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #70671)

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Distribution of Asparagus officinalis
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Introduction

Asparagus is a widely grown, cultivated species that originates in Eurasia. In North America, it has been dispersed by birds outside of cultivation and is now found in most continental US states and in all Canadian provinces (USDA 2010). In British Columbia, it is established across the southern part of the province, where it may be found in a variety of habitats, from open fields and floodplains to roadsides and ditches.

Asparagus is a perennial rhizomatous species that reproduces both vegetatively by rhizomes and by seed. The familiar asparagus stalks that we buy in the store are the young shoots of the plant that eventually expand as they grow into a relatively tall (up to 1.5 m), branching, fern-like plant that produces small green or yellowish-white, bell-shaped flowers and red berries. Male and female flowers are found on separate plants. The asparagus is a member of the Lily Family (Liliaceae).

Species Information

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General:
Perennial herb from cord-like rhizome; stems numerous, clustered, erect, 1-1.5 m tall, green, fleshy and unbranched when young, becoming freely branched and "fern-like" with age, smooth; branchlets green, thread-like, mostly 8-15 mm long, in tufts in the axils of the leaves.
Leaves:
Alternate, scalelike, papery, triangular, 1-2 mm long, or to 5 mm on young stems; basal leaves lacking.
Flowers:
Inflorescence of solitary or paired flowers drooping on short, thread-like, jointed, axillary stalks, the stalks 1-2 cm long; male and female flowers on separate plants, greenish- or yellowish-white, bell-shaped, 3-7 mm long, the male flowers slightly larger than the female, of 6 similar, distinct, petal-like segments; stamens 6; pistil 1, 3-chambered.
Fruits:
Berries, globe-shaped, red, 6-8 mm wide.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Mesic to dry fields, floodplain thickets, orchards, roadsides and ditches in the lowland and steppe zones; common in S BC east of the Coast-Cascade Mountains, rare along the SW coast; introduced from Europe.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Ecology

Ecological Framework for Asparagus officinalis

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class

Minimum

Average

Maximum

Elevation (metres) 296 539 800
Slope Gradient (%) 0 22 70
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
1 221 335
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
1 3 5
Modal Nutrient Regime
Class
C
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
26
Modal BEC Zone Class
PP
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: BG(7), IDF(8), PP(10)

Climate

The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Asparagus officinalis subsp. officinalis

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

Related Databases

General References