BN : Asparagus officinalis AKA 芦笋 (Lúsǔn), Sparrow grass. It takes three years from seed to harvest. Everyone makes “asparagus pee,” but whether one can smell depends on one's genes. China is the world's largest asparagus producer. Oceana County, Michigan is the self-proclaimed asparagus capital of the world. White asparagus is regular asparagus grown without sunlight. Purple asparagus is genetically bred to look purple and turns green when cooked. There are 300 species around the world. Asparagus cochinchinensis AKA 天门冬 (Tian Men Dong ), 天冬 leverages the asparagus roots of this species.
Antioxidants, immunostimulants, anti-inflammatory, protects the liver, antibacterial, antioxytocic, sarsasapogenin, steroidal saponins¹ essential oils, asparagine, arginine, tyrosine, flavonoids (kaempferol, quercetin, and rutin), resin, and tannin. Vitamins A, B1, B2, C, E, Mg, P, Ca, Fe, and folic acid.
(Disclaimer) Shoots of Asparagus officinalis: Used as vegetable. High potassium content may benefit those with Lupus. Asparagus is used to treat urinary tract infections, joint pain (rheumatism), hormone imbalances, constipation, AIDS, cancer, and preventing stones in the kidney. 4 Diuretic and a laxative.
Roots of Asparagus cochinchinensis: In Ayurvedic formulations, asparagus root is used to regulate the hormones, menstrual cramps, and is known as an aphrodisiac. In TCM (Tian Men Dong), asparagus root is a powerful lung tonic to help with breathing, remove toxins from respiratory tract. It's also used to alleviate dry skin. Clears the lungs, moistens dry coughs.
Asparagus and cancer: On 2/8/2018, a study was published linking the amino acid asperagine to the metastasis rate in breast cancer. This news article presented a more balanced view while other new outlet went with the sensation hype that one may want to stop eating asparagus. After hours of research, here is what I concluded.
Human cells produce asparagine, which is an amino acid that cells must have to survive. Asparagine is mostly found in beef, dairy, eggs, poultry, seafood, potatoes, nuts and seed. It is low in vegetables (except for asparagus) and fruits. The study hints at the idea that a diet inducing low asparagine may slow the rate of metastasis for breast cancer. L-asparaginase is used to treat Acute lymphocytic leukemia. This drug breaks down asparagine in the body so that cancer cells, which can not make more asparagine, would die off.
Interestingly, I found research, methanolic extract of Asparagus officinalis L. shoots, that found asparagus extracts to be beneficial for colon cancer and inhibits the development of the colon cancer in rates. The extrapolation I made is that asparagus provide extra asperagine, which promotes healthy cells. If one has not been diagnosed with cancer, eat asparagus may help prevent the formation of cancer. However, if cancer cells exist, then eating asparagus may help spread the cancer cells faster.
While asparagus shoots can be eaten with little concerns, asparagus root tonics and tinctures should be used with consultation from a professional herbalist or herbal doctor. Eating the green young shoots raw often causes dermatitis.³
Asparagus are perennials that can live 20 to 30 years. Asparagus shoots can be male or female. Many farmers cultivate male plants because they produce more and larger spears. Female shoots tend to be smaller and produce seeds.
Chinese Asparagus (Asparagus cochinchinensis ) - Grown for the roots. The roots are commonly used in TCM.
Mary Washington - traditional variety that produces long, deep green spears with pale purple tips²
Precoce D’Argenteuil heirloom variety popular in Europe and has a rosy pink tip.
Jersey’ Series – This all-male variety that grows well in chilly climates. Designed to resist crown rot, rust and fusarium wilt.²
Purple Passion – Ultra-sweet purple spears. Consist of male and female.²
Apollo – Performs in both chilly and warm weather conditions and highly disease-resistant.²
UC 157 – Performs in warmer climates, disease-resistant, both male and female.²
Atlas – Performs in hot weather, resistant to diseases, male and female.²
The thicker/larger the asparagus stalks, the more tender it is. Avoid the thin small ones. If the ends are dried and slightly concave, then it's been on the shelf for too long. If the stems look woody, then it was harvested old and will be very chewy.
I had no idea the vast number of asparagus products in the world until now. The roots are very popular. The shoots are as versatile and any vegetable. I've listed samples below. Google asparagus and any of the following categories and you'll find the array of products, many of which you can find on Amazon or Walmart.
Asparagus, is now a part of the Asparagaceae family (formerly in Liliaceae/Lilly).
Please note: do not grow asparagus in pots. I transplanted this 8 year old root into a pot and it completely died over winter.
Here's a good video describing what's needed to successfully plant asparagus in a bed.
Grilled asparagus is my favorite. I've used it in stir fries a lot. It's a great mix for salads.
Asparagus root is call Shatavri (“She who has a thousand husbands”) in India. It's suppose to be a beauty tonic. Heck, had I know the roots were so expensive, I would have better protected my 8 year old huge asparagus root ball that I spent 4 hours moving from one house to another. It died over winter in the large pot.