Thursday, June 19, 2008


  • Botanical Name : Asparagus Racemosus
  • Family Name : Liliaceae
  • Common Name : Asparagus, Wild Asparagus, Asparagus Root, Satavari
  • Part Used : Tuberous Roots

Uses :
The roots are bitter, sweet, emollient, cooling, nervine, tonic, constipating, opthalimic, anobyne, aphrodisiac . They are useful in nervous disorders, dyspepsia, tumours, scalding of urine, throat infections, tuberclosis, cough bronchitis and general debility. Roots are used externally to treat stiffness in the joints. The rhizome is a soothing tonic that acts mainly on the circulatory, digestive and respiratory system.


Although asparagus is native to Europe, it will also grow very well in the sub-tropics. The new emerging shoots are eaten as a vegetable, harvested when 2-3cm thick and about15-20cm long. These shoots called spears, if left to keep growing, will develop into soft, ferny fronds a metre or more high. Cream/ green, bell-shaped flowers, form in stem axils of male plants. Female plants produce smaller, quite inconspicuous flowers, that develop into small, round, red 1cm berries, which are seed capsules, containing several round, black seeds. When grown from seed, plants usually require 2-3 years to develop a strong enough underground root system to cope with regular picking. Division of established plants, by digging the rhizome crowns, is the quickest way to get plants to picking stage. Divided rhizomes look like large, white, leggy spiders.

The best time to divide roots is early spring, when plants are coming out of winter dormancy. When dividing, take care not to damage the tips of new shoots. If the division has put on a good growth in the first year, by the second year spears can be selectively cut. In the third year, cutting can start when the first spears appear in spring and kept up to the end of December (or even longer in sub-tropical climates). It is important to then allow the spears to develop into ferny tops. This allows the plant to regain strength and vigour underground, necessary for the following year’s crop. Plant asparagus in a well-drained, permanent position in the garden as it may grow for ten or more years. Loose, deep soil with compost and old manure added, is important, as asparagus is a heavy feeder. The more decomposing mulchmaterial supplied during the formative period, the better. This will help develop the strong root system. Some growers plant the rhizome divisions in 20cm deep trenches, filling the trench with soil or humus as crowns develop. Stems that go dormant in winter are cut near the ground and the plants thickly mulched, even with seaweed straight from the beach as plants thrive on this mineral-rich, salty mulch. Feed plants regularly.

Organic growers have observed that asparagus is a useful companion around tomatoes, pawpaws, parsley, rhubarb, raspberries, basil and comfrey. Planting comfrey nearby can provide a close source of leaves to pick for mulch, and I have observed that asparagus loves liquid manure made with comfrey.

As asparagus produces the substance asparagin, which is found to repel nematodes, growing asparagus near plants that are prone to attack by these root pests will help with control. To produce white (blanched), mild-flavoured spears, the plants need to be thickly mulched; the spears cut when the tips just appear through the mulch. Cut by inserting a long knife deep into the mulch, cutting at an angle just above the roots of the plant. The blanching can also be achieved by standing earthenware pipes, wooden tubes or bamboo joints, upright over the emerging spears. Personally, I like green asparagus - full of chlorophyll - so I let them get to 15cm above the ground, when they are crisp, crunchy and sweet with the flavour of fresh, green peas. In France, where folk are great connoisseurs of fine foods, the green asparagus is always preferred - they say it has the taste of the sun in it. If you wish to save seed for future planting, it is necessary to grow male and female plants nearby for pollination, to set seed. Male plants are usually taller than female plants, with the foliage beginning higher on the stems; while female plants have fronds starting closer to the ground. Only when plants flower, will it be definite what sex plants are. Both male and female plants have culinary and medicinal use. Some growers believe male plants produce more spears than their female counterparts and that the male plant will always grow bigger and thicker spears. This belief possibly has come from the doctrine of signatures theory: that the spear looks like an erect, male penis. Folklore also connected asparagus with increasing libido.


volatile oil, rutin and other flavonoids, saponins, tannins, asparagin, resin, gum, steroidal and bitter glycosides, albumen, coniferin, vanillin, tyrosin, sugar, arginin, asparagose, chelindonic acid, protein, fibre, protein.


A, B, folic acid, C, E.


calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, selenium, iodine, magnesium, manganese, sulphur, silicon, florine.

Medicinal Uses

The use of asparagus was recorded before the time of Christ. In the first Century. Its botanical species name, ‘officinalis’, indicates its recognition as an official therapeutic herb. The herb has been highly valued and prescribed to stimulate and strengthen kidney function. Eating fresh spears, or spears juiced, provides a strong diuretic action. This helps to clean and revitalize kidneys, bladder and relieve edema, especially arising from congestion around the heart. The effectiveness of this action may be experienced in strong odour and colour of urine, which is the body’s metabolism, speeding up the excretion of wastes. This action is also found helpful for people with painful, swollen joints and gout as the herb helps to dissolve uric acid deposits, and cholesterol build-up in blood vessels. Asparagus has long been considered an aphrodisiac in many different cultures, and there is some scientific truth behind this belief, as asparagus contains a compound, known to stimulate the production of sex hormones.