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Asparagus

  • Asparagus officinalis L.
  • Liliaceae
  • Lily family



Common Names

herbsSparrow grass


Parts Usually Used

Young shoots, seed, and root


Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Asparagus is a perennial plant; the short, horizontal rootstock has long, thick roots and sends up the young shoots that we eat as vegetables. If allowed to mature, these become branched stems that reach 5 feet in height. What look like leaves on the stem and branches are actually filiform branches which are clustered in the axils of the scaly, inconspicuous leaves (actually branches functioning as leaves). In May and June the plant bears small, solitary, pendulous, bell-shaped, greenish-white, seldom noticed, flowers. The fruit is a red berry, about 1/3 inch in diameter, containing black seeds and ripening in August.


Where Found

Generally cultivated for food but may be found growing wild around old garden sites and in waste places.


Medicinal Properties

Aperient, diaphoretic, diuretic, nutritive, demulcent


Biochemical Information

Asparagin, sucrose, starch, and mucilage, folic acid, steroidal glycosides


Legends, Myths and Stories

Asparagus is a highly regarded herb worldwide. Chinese pharmacists save the best roots of this plant for their families and friends in the belief that it will increase feelings of compassion and love. In India, asparagus is used to promote fertility, reduce menstrual cramping and increase milk production in nursing mothers. In the Western world, it has been touted as an aphrodisiac. These customs and beliefs are not mere superstition: the root contains compounds called steroidal glycosides that directly affect hormone production and may very well influence emotions. High in folic acid, which is essential for production of new red blood cells. Eat the young shoots and seeds.


Uses

Acts to increase cellular activity in the kidneys and so increases the rate of urine production. Do not use asparagus when the kidneys are inflamed. Encourages evacuation of the bowels by increasing fecal bulk with undigested fiber. Recommended for gout, dropsy, and rheumatism. Not recommended for podagra. The powdered seed relieves nausea and calms the stomach. Japanese report green asparagus aids protein conversion into amino acids. The roots considered diuretic, laxative, induce sweating. Chinese report that the roots can lower blood pressure. Seeds have antibiotic properties.


How Sold

Supermarkets for vegetable tops Seed in powder form


Warning

May cause dermatitis. Do not use asparagus if diarrhea is present. Do not use if kidneys are inflamed, because it increases the rate of urinary production.

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