Wild Asparagus (Asparagus acutifolius) is a plant of the Liliaceae family found practically throughout the Mediterranean basin, though rarer in the north. The common names “thorny asparagus” and “pungent asparagus” derive from the characteristics of the thorns at the base of the leaves. Not to be confused with wild hops or pungitopo sprouts (both called “wild asparagus”), whose shoots are still harvested in the spring in the countryside and uncultivated places to make excellent risotto, omelette and soup.
Systematically Asparagus acutifolius belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, the Kingdom Plantae, the Tracheobionta Substitution, the Spermatophyta Superdivision, the Magnoliophyta Division, the Liliopsida Class, the Liliales Order, the Liliaceae Family and then the Asparagus Genus and the Species A. acutifolius.
The name comes from the Greek “aspháragos”, which probably comes in turn from the ancient Persian asparagus, that is, “sprout”, which would confirm the Eastern origin, probably Mesopotamian.
The specific epithet comes from the Latin “acutifolius, -a, -um”, and refers to the spinous form of the “leaves”.
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Asparagus acutifolius is a typically Mediterranean species in the narrow sense and with a limited area on the Mediterranean coast where the Olive grows and grows. Habitat is characteristic of sands, lichens, deciduous forests, hedges and above all on limestone substrate, from 0 to 1300 m. S.l.m. Is a xerophilous species.
In Italy it is present in almost all of the territory but commonly in the central-southern regions; It is more rare or sporadic as you ascend to the north.
The Antesi is in the period between August and November
Asparagus acutifolius is a suffruticous, generally diocious, evergreen and highly branched evergreen plant that can reach a height of 1.50 m. The stems are woody and rigid, arcuate-ascending, more or less cylindrical, finely pubescent, soled. New spring discards, still devoid of cladodes, are called turbines.
The leaves are reduced to tiny shriveled membranes, spinosa at the base of the stems, replaced by the chlorophylline function from the cladodes (transformed twigs) that develop in their armpit. They are needle-shaped (0.6 x 4-9 mm) and rigid, channeled, more or less equal, with a cornea spinula and pike-shaped at the apex, arranged in vertically-clamped bands of 4-12.
The flowers are lonely or paired, on short articulated pedicles (3-8 mm) arranged at the cobble axle, with perigone (4-5 mm) to 6 green-yellow tepals welded to the base. The flowers are apparently hermaphrodites presenting female and male reproductive organs, but behave as unicorns: female flowers are characterized by short stems with sterile anthers (staminods) that do not produce pollen, while in male flowers the gynecomast is abortive and considerably smaller In relation to the tepals, and does not come to fruition.
We find six stamens while the ovary is over trichard. The stigma is three. The fruit is a spherical berry (5-6 mm Ø), green, almost black at maturity, containing 1-3 seeds. Pollination is entomogama.
Often with the term wild asparagus they are mistakenly called the wild honey sprouts and the pungitopo sprouts, which are also widespread in the wild.
Wild asparagus is a spontaneous plant that escapes humid and clay soils, preferring sandy and rich organic matter, lives well in both plains and hills, the only limit being that its adaptability decreases more than 600 m Of altitude.
It is currently a very sought-after product in the kitchen, for its typicality and for health for health effects; It occupies interesting market spaces, sparking good sales prices.
The multiple tests of domesticated and cultivated wild asparagus have confirmed that the cultivation of wild asparagus offers great benefits; In particular, it offers the possibility to program production both in quantity and harvest time, increased harvesting ability, crop availability in your farm, the possibility of 2 crops in the same year.
Although not comparable to the asparagus we find in malls, we can easily plant a small home-grown crop or start thinking about the most extensive cultivation types for a very valuable product. In particular, the hilly areas of the vastense and of the Sangro and of the bass Molise have been particularly suitable for this type of cultivation but this does not detract from its cultivation throughout the typical area of its habitat. It would be really the case to start this kind of cultivation because it could have a huge market success. Here’s a very good guide to moving from words to facts: How to make a small asparagus wild growing from seed.
In the soil there must be no stagnant water (stagnant humidity) such as to affect the roots, the soil works at a depth of 35-40 cm, while at the same time interposing 35-40 kg of manure (or equivalent amount of compost) Every 10 square meters of surface area. When the fruits (berries) are ripe (advanced autumn), they are harvested and left to completely dry; at this point, the fruits extract the seeds. Sowing can be done in protected crops (better than heated) in March, using plastic (not polystyrene) containers of 80 seats and the appropriate sowing plant for sowing. Wild asparagus transplantation is performed as soon as the seedlings are sufficiently developed and the roots can completely retain the soil: in this way the extraction from the containers is easy. It is carried out by June, approximate distances on the row 30-35 cm and 120-150 cm between one row and the other. Then follow the wild asparagus plants with moderate but frequent irrigation, so that the soil is always slightly damp. Harvesting should begin from the third year after planting.
Uses and Traditions –
Asparagus is a box of nutritious benefits, among which we can find vegetable fibers, folic acid and vitamins, with particular reference to Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. They also have an interesting mineral content, including Well highlight chromium, a mineral that helps improve insulin’s ability to transport glucose from the bloodstream to the cells of our body.
In this regard, recent studies have shown asparagus among the elements indicated for food consumption in order to implement a type 2 diabetes prevention that starts right from the table. The active ingredients contained in asparagus through laboratory experiments have proved to be able to act by promoting insulin production and decreasing blood glucose levels.
Asparagus, as well as avocado, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, are particularly rich in a substance called glutathione, useful in favoring the purification of the body, improving its ability to get rid of harmful substances and carcinogenic components, Than free radicals.
That is why asparagus consumption could be judged useful in the prevention of some forms of cancer, with particular reference to bone, breast, colon, laryngeal and lung cancer. Asparagus is also rich in antioxidants, a feature that makes them the most useful vegetable to counteract the signs of aging. According to some preliminary studies, asparagus may be useful in slowing down the process of advancing biological life.
Another beneficial attribute to asparagus concerns their potential ability to help our brain to counteract cognitive decline.
In addition, asparagus contains high levels of an amino acid called asparagine, which constitutes a natural diuretic, thus allowing the body to expel excess sodium.
Asparagus has a high potassium content, a precious mineral salt for regulating blood pressure and muscle functioning, including the heart.
Together with topinambur, asparagus is considered to be particularly beneficial for our digestive system due to their inulin content, a type of carbohydrate that is intact to the intestine and is an ideal source of nutrition for bacterial flora, with particular reference to lactobacilli. In addition to supporting digestion, asparagus is considered to be a true natural anti-inflammatory.
By summing up the asparagus are:
Rich in vitamins;
Rich in Mineral Salt;
Rich in fiber;
They depurate the body and are diuretics;
Prevent Type 2 Diabetes;
They are antioxidants;
They prevent some forms of cancer;
They contribute to the smooth functioning of the nervous system;
They prevent cardiopulmonary pathologies;
They are natural anti-inflammatory;
They help digestion and improve intestinal function.
Thanks to all the above mentioned properties, eating asparagus allows us to achieve a number of benefits: keeping the blood glucose, taking a good dose of vitamins and minerals, having a diuretic and purifying effect on the body. These latest features make them particularly recommended for those who suffer from water retention, edema or hypertension.
These plants are also great, within a proper diet, to improve digestion and intestinal regularity (great for those who suffer from constipation). Interestingly, the effect on the brain, the folic acid in them, in fact, in combination with vitamin B12, allows the prevention of disorders that could affect the cognitive sphere with advancing age.
The consumption of asparagus is then indicated in the prevention of cardiovascular pathologies, as well as to promote the smooth functioning of the nervous system.
Asparagus can offer benefits in the case of:
High blood sugar;
Need to purify the body;
Cognitive decline prevention;
To foster the workings of the nervous system;
Prevention of cardiovascular diseases;
Asparagus is largely water-based but also offers a certain amount of carbohydrates, proteins and fibers (substances useful for intestinal well-being). They are a nutrient-free food and, as we have seen, also contain several beneficial vitamins and mineral salts for our body. As for mineral salts and vitamins, asparagus contains:
Potassium 253 mg;
Phosphorus 64 mg;
Calcium 25 mg;
Magnesium 14 mg;
Ferro 0.73 mg;
Zinc 0.59 mg;
Manganese 0.203 mg;
Vitamin C 31.8 mg (53% RDA);
Vitamin A 948 UI;
Vitamin B1 0.121 mg (8.6% RDA);
Vitamin B2 0.131 mg (8.2% RDA);
Vitamin B3 1,202 mg (6.7% RDA);
Vitamin B5 0.184 mg (3.1% RDA);
Folate 191 μg (95.5% RDA).
Asparagus is low calorie: 100 grams make only 41 calories to our body. We also remember that they are very poor in fat and have cholesterol equal to 0. While also favoring purification and diuresis, they are particularly suitable for those who follow a diet designed to lose weight.
Wild asparagus has a bitter taste often used in cooking to make omelettes, or sauces (much appreciated asparagus rice), sprout in the spring and can be seized several times. In their research and collection, you do not have to pull out the under-white stem as well.
In the local dialect the asparagus turkey is called spirals (or even sparge, spérne, spièrni). The adult plant in the vastness is called “rocchie de spirale”, “mamme de spirne”, in other places of Abruzzo asparagus, asperage, cècasurge, shrubs, sparace, spinarole, spìne, mottled. The name Pungitopo (Ruscus aculeatus) with the name “twist” or “glue” in the Upper Vastese is that when young and tender it is also highly appreciated by the admirers in various towns of Abruzzo and Molise.
A. acutifolius shoots are edible as those of other related species. They have a bit bitter flavor and are very sought after for various culinary preparations.
Asparagus properties are very well known. Turbines and especially rhizomes, have eminently diuretic, purifying, laxative and slimming effects. They contain amino acids (asparagine) and many mineral salts. But use is not advisable for those who suffer from kidney inflammation. In the body, after eating, a methylcaptan is formed, a substance that is eliminated through the urine, giving them a characteristic, penetrating and unpleasant smell.
Some Regions regulate harvesting in the wild by setting the time and quantity limits, others also require possession of a specific card to be collected.
Until a recent past, the pungent Asparagus plants, because of their robustness, were used by the chimney sweepers to clean the chimneys of chimneys. The sweeper rolled some asparagus bushes creating a “ball” of about 50-80 cm in diameter. This was tied to a rope and pulled several times through the chimney so as to peel the soot from the chimney walls.
The Asparagus had already been consumed by the Egyptians and the ancient Romans already in the 200 BC. They had manuals for cultivation. Asparagus is quoted by Teofrasto, Cato, Pliny and Apicius, who described the method of cultivation and preparation in detail. To the Roman emperors the asparagus liked so much that they had vessels to pick them up. Since the fifteenth century, cultivation began in France, and in the sixteenth century it reached the peak of popularity in England; Only later was introduced in North America.
Avoid gout, arteriosclerosis, urinary calculations and inflammation.
Methods of Preparation –
For their preparation we begin with their collection and some rules to follow. There are several schools of thought in the field. In principle, if the asparagus is long enough, it must be removed in the non-woody part, about 20 cm from the tip. In this case, the stalk of the asparagus does not cut “spice”, ie it will emit lateral jets. If the asparagus is young, some of it is torn (by hand or with scissors) at the base, at the level of the ground, others harvest it out of the ground, removing the white part under the ground for 5-15 cm, taking care, however, not to Damage the mother plant. Ancient beliefs of the respondent argue that if asparagus is eradicated, it will produce 10 new asparagus. In fact, this would seem to be the best method to continue to produce new jets.
For a safe collection and to avoid unpleasant inconveniences, we advise you to wear suitable equipment such as boots, gloves, scissors.
Unfortunately, often people in our forests are lacking in responsibility, education and measure. For this reason, many regions, such as Tuscany, Veneto, Sicily, have set up specific regulations to regulate methods and quantities of collection and, above all, to avoid damaging and destroying the mother plant. In Abruzzo there is no specific regulation for the collection of wild asparagus. We have only found an indication of how much asparagus (A. acutifolius) is harvested by 1 kg per person.
Before being cooked as best as you like, the asparagus must be washed and cleaned. Compared to other types of vegetables, it is not difficult to clean the asparagus only serves a spooler or a smooth knife with which to do a few simple steps.
Asparagus lends itself to many uses in the kitchen. With this plant, typical of spring, you can make first, second courses or contours but often well-liked are also asparagus as they are, simply seasoned with extra virgin olive oil and lemon.
Wild asparagus is excellent in the first dishes, to prepare tasty risotto or to dress pasta. They are perfect baked, combined with boiled eggs or mayonnaise, but also good for omelettes or as main ingredient of flan and tortini.
The sprout of the asparagus is more delicate than the base of the stem, so it is advisable to bake them vertically by connecting the stems to each other. In this way only the bottom will be immersed in boiling water and the sprouts, coming out of the water, will get a steaming. For optimum cooking there is an asparagus, a tall, narrow cylindrical pot with handles and a perforated basket that facilitates cooking without having to tie the stems.
In Sardinia, the asparagus cartilage, mostly of Asparagus acutifolius, is often cooked in the grasshoppers: oiled asparagus is wrapped in salt and salt with at least two layers of aluminum in film and covered with heat and hot ash for about 15- 20 minutes, however, before the advent of aluminum film was used to wrap asparagus in leaves of Asphodel; In some locations this practice is still used.
To enhance the characteristic flavor of asparagus you can cook them using the tarragon. Thanks to the perfect combination of these two ingredients you can prepare delicious dishes or sauces for your favorite dishes. Other recommended combinations with asparagus are: curry, white pepper, dill and mustard.
Asparagus, as we have already said, can also be used when you are following a slimming diet, given their low caloric intake, the ability to keep hunger and stimulate diuresis.
Asparagus does not show any particular contraindications, if not a hypersensitivity to the plant. Particular attention is paid to those who are allergic to the plants of the Liliaceae family, which also include onion, garlic and leek. Also not recommended for those who suffer from calculus or kidney disorders since it is rich in purine foods. Among the “side effects” of asparagus there is the characteristic odor that takes urine after their consumption, there is nothing to worry about this is due to the presence of asparagine.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. The Health of the Lord’s Pharmacy, Tips and Experiences with Medicinal Herbs, Ennsthaler Publisher
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (eds.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
Caution: Pharmaceutical applications and surgical uses are indicated for information purposes only; they do not represent any prescription of a medical type; Therefore, no responsibility for their use for any curative, aesthetic or food use is considered.