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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).
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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.
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.
Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2020. E-Flora BC:
Electronic Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia [eflora.bc.ca]. Lab for
Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British
Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed:
2020-12-04 5:22:11 AM
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