This section is from the book "Handbook Of Hardy Trees, Shrubs, And Herbaceous Plants", by W. Botting Hemsley. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of hardy trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.
Erect or climbing herbs or shrubs with minute scale-like leaves and numerous very slender fascicled acicular branch lets sometimes spiny. Flowers axillary, small and inconspicuous, on jointed pedicels. Fruit baccate. The elegant plumose branches of the esculent Asparagus, A. officinalis, render this species almost indispensable in floral decorations, though it is seldom seen out of the kitchen garden. A, tenuifolius, perhaps a variety of the foregoing, has still slenderer branch-lets and a much shorter perianth-tube. ' A. Broussonetii is a climbing spiny species, from the Canary Islands, having red berries similar to those of the above. There are upwards of fifty other species in temperate Europe and Asia and the tropics of Africa and Asia. The name is of Greek origin, applied by the ancients to the edible species.