Asparagus Facts

Asparagus Facts
Asparagus is herbaceous plant that belongs to the family Asparagaceae. It originates from Europe, North Africa and West Asia, but it can be found around the world today. Asparagus grows in a temperate climate. It remains dormant during the cold period of the year (low temperatures are essential for the proper development of this plant). Majority of globally consumed asparagus originate from China that produces nearly 7 million tons of this vegetable each year.
Interesting Asparagus Facts:
Asparagus has stout stem that can reach 39 to 59 inches in height.
Asparagus has multi-branched, feathery, fern-like leaves.
Asparagus has underground stem (rhizome) and strong, fibrous root system. At the beginning of the spring, rhizome starts to produce buds that transform into spears - edible parts of asparagus.
Spears can grow 6 inches per day during a period of 6 to 7 weeks. Harvest of the fully grown spears takes place each day or every 4 to 5 days, depending on the outer temperatures (higher temperature accelerates growth).
Spears can be green, white or purple. White spears grow below the ground, without exposure to the sunlight (which is essential for the activation of pigments in the plant). Purple variety is artificially created (genetically altered asparagus), but it changes the color into green during the cooking.
Unharvested spears produce bell-shaped, greenish-white or yellow flowers. Asparagus is dioecious plant, which means that male and female flowers develop on the separate plants. Flowers grow individually or in clusters composed of two to three flowers.
Fruit of asparagus is small red berry. Unlike spears, berry is poisonous for humans.
Asparagus is rich source of dietary fibers, vitamins C, B2, B9, K and E and minerals such as iron, manganese, phosphorus and potassium.
After removal of the woody end of asparagus, spears can be boiled, microwaved, cooked, fried, marinated or pickled.
Asparagus was very popular in the ancient Egypt. Bunch of asparagus can be seen on the walls of many tombs.
Fastest Roman athletes were carrying asparagus toward the Alps (to preserve it in the cold temperatures) while another, "asparagus fleet", was responsible to bring best-quality asparagus to Rome.
Asparagus was the favorite type of food of King Louis XIV. Frenchmen started to cultivate asparagus in the greenhouse to ensure year-round stashes of this vegetable.
Asparagus was used as laxative and in treatment of toothache and poor eyesight in the past. It contains substances that can alleviate symptoms of the migraine, PMS and hangover.
Asparagus has aphrodisiac properties due to high level of vitamin E which is essential for the synthesis of sex hormones.
Asparagus is perennial plant. First harvest takes place 3 years after planting. Asparagus produces spears until the age of 15 to 20 years.

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