Stem at first simple, fleshy, scaly, at length much branched; the branchlets filiform and mostly clustered in the axils of the scales in the following species, flattened and linear, lanceolate or ovate in some others. Flowers small, solitary, umbelled or racemed. Perianth-segments alike, separate or slightly united at the base. Stamens inserted at the bases of the perianth-segments; filaments mostly filiform; anthers ovate or oblong, introrse. Ovary sessile, 3-celled; ovules 2 in each cavity; style slender, short; stigmas 3, short, recurved. Berry globose. Seeds few, rounded. [Ancient Greek name.]

About 100 species, natives of the Old World, the following being the generic type.

1 Asparagus L Sp Pi 313 1753 1280

1. Asparagus Officinalis L. Asparagus

Fig. 1280

Asparagus officinalis L. Sp. PI. 313. 1753.

Rootstock much branched. Young stems succulent, edible, stout, later branching, and becoming 3°-7° tall, the filiform branchlets 3"-9" long, less than 1/4" thick, mostly clustered in the axils of minute scales. Flowers mostly solitary at the nodes, green, drooping on filiform jointed peduncles; perianth campanulate, about 3" long, the segments linear, obtuse; stamens shorter than the perianth; berry red, about 4" in diameter.

Escaped from cultivation and naturalized, especially along salt marshes, New Brunswick to Virginia, and locally in waste places in the interior. Native of Europe. Sperage. Sparrow-grass. May-June, or flowering also in the autumn.