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Asparagus plants originated in the Mediterranean region and in Africa. They grow best in moderate climates and in loose, moist, sandy soil. In the United States, most asparagus is produced in California, New Jersey, and Washington.
Asparagus is a perennial plant--that is, it can live for several years without replanting. Most of the commercial asparagus crop is grown from seedlings that are planted in early spring. As the plants grow, they develop a root system called the crown. The crown consists of fleshy roots that store food and underground stems called rhizomes. As the soil temperature rises, buds on the rhizomes grow through the soil and become the spears. If the spears are not harvested, they develop into tall, mature plants with feathery leaves. Most asparagus plantings are not harvested until the third year, when the roots are able to store large amounts of food. In some cases, such properly established plantings may continue to produce well for 15 to 25 years.
The asparagus fern is a kind of asparagus used in floral arrangements. It also is a good house plant.
Scientific Classification. Asparagus belongs to the lily family, Liliaceae. Edible asparagus is Asparagus officinalis. The asparagus fern is A. plumosus.