asparagus

asparaginous /as'peuh raj"euh neuhs/, adj.
/euh spar"euh geuhs/, n.
1. any plant of the genus Asparagus, of the lily family, esp. A. officianalis, cultivated for its edible shoots.
2. the shoots, eaten as a vegetable.
[bef. 1000; < L < Gk asp(h)áragos; r. OE sparagi ( < ML) and later sperage, sparrowgrass]

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Any plant of the genus Asparagus (lily family), which contains about 300 species native from Siberia to southern Africa.

The best-known and economically most important species is the garden asparagus (A. officinalis), cultivated as a green vegetable for its succulent spring stalks. Several African species are grown as ornamental plants. The poisonous species prized for their delicate and graceful foliage are A. plumosus (the feathery asparagus fern, or florists' fern
not a true fern), A. sprengeri, and A. asparagoides.

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▪ plant genus
 genus of the lily family (Liliaceae) with about 300 species native from Siberia to southern Africa. Best known is the garden asparagus, Asparagus officinalis, cultivated as a green vegetable for its succulent spring stalks. Several African species are grown as ornamental plants.

      Asparagus may be erect or climbing, and most of the species are more or less woody. The rhizome-like, or sometimes tuberous, roots give rise to conspicuous, leaflike branchlets; true leaves are reduced to small scales. Small, greenish-yellow flowers in the spring are followed by red berries in the fall.

      Garden asparagus, the most economically important species of the genus, is cultivated in most temperate and subtropical parts of the world. As a vegetable it has been prized by epicures since Roman times; it is most commonly served cooked, either hot or in salad; the classic accompaniment is hollandaise sauce. The world's leading producers of asparagus are Peru, the United States, and Spain. The vegetable is also grown extensively in Morocco, France, Italy, and Mexico. Commercial plantations are not undertaken in regions where the plant continues to grow throughout the year, for the shoots become more spindly and less vigorous each year; a rest period is required. Where climate is favourable and with proper care, an asparagus plantation may be productive for 10 to 15 years or longer. The best soil types for asparagus are deep, loose, light clays, with much organic matter, and light, sandy loams. Asparagus will thrive in soils too salty for other crops, but acid soils are to be avoided. The asparagus cutting season varies from 2 to 12 weeks, depending on age of the plantation and on climate.

      In parts of France, most notably at Argenteuil, asparagus is customarily grown underground to inhibit development of chlorophyll. This white asparagus is prized for its tenderness and delicate flavour. In classic French culinary nomenclature, the word “Argenteuil” denotes an asparagus garnish.

      The several poisonous species prized for their delicate and graceful foliage are: A. plumosus, the asparagus fern, or florists' fern (not a true fern), which has feathery sprays of branchlets often used in corsages and in other plant arrangements; and A. sprengeri and A. asparagoides, likewise grown for their attractive, lacy foliage.

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Universalium. 2010.