Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: ASPARAGUS from A Dictionary of Entomology

Noun. (Middle English sperage < Latin, asparagus < Greek, asparagos = to spring up.) 1. Any of various perennial plants of Old World Genus Asparagus (lily Family), especially Asparagus officinalis. Members display multiply branched, leaf-like stems, minute scale-like leaves and small flowers; pale green succulent stems cooked and eaten as a vegetable. 2. Edible young shoots of asparagus plant.


Summary Article: asparagus
from The Columbia Encyclopedia

perennial garden vegetable (Asparagus officinalis) of the family Liliaceae (lily family), native to the E Mediterranean area and now naturalized over much of the world. As in the other species of this Old World genus of succulent plants, the stems are green and function as leaves, while the leaves themselves are reduced to small scales. The tender shoots of asparagus are cut and eaten in the spring. It grows wild in the salt marshes of Europe and Asia, where it has also been under cultivation from antiquity. In early times it was regarded as a panacea. Cato in his On Farming gave directions for growing asparagus similar to those in a modern manual of agriculture. The San Joaquin valley is the main asparagus-growing area of the United States; over half the crop is processed, i.e., canned or frozen. The feathery sprays of the mature garden asparagus are sometimes used by florists, but more popular for decorative purposes are other plants of the same genus—the asparagus fern (A. plumosus, not a true fern) and the florists' smilax (A. asparagoides), both climbing vines native to S Africa. The wild smilax, usually called greenbrier, belongs to the genus Smilax. Asparagus is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Liliopsida, order Liliales, family Liliaceae.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2017

Related Articles


Full text Article Asparagus
The Illustrated Cook's Book of Ingredients

Asparagus grows in temperate zones worldwide where there is regular summer water from either rain or irrigation. Spears can range in...

Full text Article asparagus
Dictionary of Food: International Food and Cooking Terms from A to Z

A perennial plant of the lily family, Asparagus officinalis . The young shoots are removed in spring. White asparagus is cut below ground when...

Full text Article asparagus
Academic Press Dictionary of Science and Technology

Any plant of the genus Asparagus , liliaceaous herbs having reduced, scalelike or bristlelike leaves and small leaflike branches called...

See more from Credo