Asparagus officinalis L.

Scientific Name

Asparagus officinalis L.


Asparagus altilis (L.) Asch., Asparagus caspius Schult. & Schult.f., Asparagus caspius Hohen. [Illegitimate], Asparagus collinus Schur [Illegitimate], Asparagus esculentus Salisb., Asparagus fiori Sennen, Asparagus hedecarpus Andrews ex Baker, Asparagus hortensis Mill. ex Baker, Asparagus littoralis Steven, Asparagus oxycarpus Steven, Asparagus paragus Gueldenst. ex Ledeb., Asparagus polyphyllus Steven ex Ledeb., Asparagus sativus Mill., Asparagus setiformis Krylov, Asparagus tenuifolius Gilib. [Invalid], Asparagus vulgaris Gueldenst. ex Ledeb. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Asparagus [2]
English Asparagus [2], common asparagus, common garden asparagus, edible asparagus, garden asparagus, sparrowgrass [3]
China Xiao bai bu [3]
India Asbara-ghus, dripi, haleeyun, halgun, halyun, hillua, khasabul-hgyah, mar-chobah, margiyah, nakdown, paragus, satavari, seet muli, shatavari, tukhm haliyun, tukhm halyun, tukhm-i-halyun, vilayati karua [3]
Thailand Nomai-farang [2]
Philippines Asparago (Tagalog) [2]
Cambodia Tum'-peang barang [2]
Vietnam M[aw]ng t[aa]y [2]
Japan Oranda-kiji-kakkushi [3]
France Asperge [2].

Geographical Distributions

The origin of Asparagus officinalis is believed to be the eastern Mediterranean; however, it grows wild in Europe, the Caucasus and western Siberia. It is also naturalised in the Americas and New Zealand, and now occurs as a crop plant worldwide. In Southeast Asia, it is found mainly in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. [2]

Botanical Description

A. officinalis is a member of the Asparagaceae family. It is a herbaceous, dioecious, climbing or erect perennial which can grow up to 2 m tall, and with a robust woody rhizome comprising a number of bud clusters and many long (1.5-2 m) unbranched, fleshy storage roots. [2]

The young stem is fleshy when still underground. The stem above ground is strongly branched and with fine, needle-like foliage. [2]

The true leaves are reduced to minute bract-like triangular brownish scales. In the axils of the scales, there are 3-6 subterete, green, needle-like, thin branchlets (cladodes), measuring 1-2 cm long, which seem to represent the leaves. [2]

The flowers are solitary or in pairs in the leaf axils, unisexual, small, tubular-bell-shaped and pendulous. The tepals measure 6-8 mm long in male and 4-6 mm in female flowers. [2]

The fruit is a spherical berry, red and 1-6-seeded. The seed is black. [2]


A. officinalis does not seem to have a daylength response. Photosynthetic activity is observed to increase up to 300 W/m2 PAR (Physiologically-Active Radiation) as in most C3 plants. The optimum temperature for dry matter accumulation is 25-30°C, but the optimum temperature for the accumulation of food reserves in the roots may be slightly lower. High relative humidity is a distinct disadvantage due to the problems of foliage diseases. The crop can be successfully produced at low altitudes even in the tropics, though spear quality may not be as high as those produced at higher altitudes. Absence of frost during the growing season is important. Deep, well-drained sandy loams or volcanic soils are preferable, with adequate supply of nutrients, particularly nitrogen and potassium. Asparagus is able to grow in a very wide range of pH, though 5.8-6.5 is deemed optimum. [2]

Chemical Constituent

A. officinalis  has been reported to contain (+/-)-1-monopalmitin, 1-methoxy-4-[5-(4-methoxyphenoxy)-3-penten-1-ynyl]-benzene, 4-[5-(4-methoxyphenoxy)-3-penten-1-ynyl]phenol, 4-[5-(4-hydroxyphenoxy)-3-penten-1-ynyl]phenol, 5,6-epoxide, 1-O-feruloyl-3-O-p-coumaroylglycerol, 1,2-O-diferuloylglycerol, 1,3-O-di-p-coumaroylglycerol, 1,3-O-diferuloylglycerol, 2-hydroxyasparenyn [3',4'-trans-2-hydroxy-1-methoxy-4-[5-(4-methoxyphenoxy)-3-penten-1-ynyl]-benzene], (25S)-5β-spirostan-3β, 17α-diol, (25S)-5β-spirostan-3β-ol-3-O-β-d-glucopyranosyl-(1,2)-[β-d-xylopyranosyl-(1,4)]-β-d-glucopyranoside, (25S)-5β-spirostan-3beta-ol-3-O-β-d-glucopyranosyl-(1,2)-β-d-glucopyranoside, (25S)-5β-spirostan-3β-ol-3-O-α-l-rhamnopyranosyl-(1,2)-[α-l-rhamnopyranosyl-(1,4)]-β-d-glucopyranoside, (25S)26-O-β-d-glucopyranosyl-5β-furost-20(22)-ene-3β,26-diol-3-O-β-d-glucopyranosyl-(1,2)-β-d-glucopyranoside, (25S)-spirostan-5-ene-3β-ol-3-O-α-L-rhamnopyranosyl-(1,2)-[α-L-rhamnopyranosyl-(1,4)]-β-D-glucopyranoside, 3-[3''-(O-β-d-glucopyranosyl)-6''-(O-α-l-rhamnopyranosyl)-O-β-d-glucopy ranoside], antheraxanthin, arginine, asparagin, asparagosides, asparagusic acid, asparagusic acid anti-S-oxide methyl ester, asparagusic acid syn-S-oxide methyl ester, asparenyn, asparenyol, beta-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin, β-sitosterol, blumenol C, capsanthin, capsorubin, cyanidin 3-rutinoside, (+/-)-epipinoresinol, ferulic acid, inulin, kaempferol, linoleic acid, lutein, methyl protodioscin, mutatoxanthin epimers, neoxanthin, protodioscin, quercetrin, rutin, sarsasapogenin M, sarsasapogenin N, sarsasapogenin O, sitosterol-beta-d-glucoside, spargancin, tyrosine, violaxanthin, yamogenin, yamogenin II, zeaxanthin. [4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13]

Plant Part Used

Plant, root and ripe fruits (seeds). [4]

Traditional Use

To the Indian community, A. officinalis is a diuretic, laxative, sedative, cardiotonic, galactagogue. The young shoots has diuretic, emmenagogue and aphrodisiac activities. [5][14][15]

Its diuretic effects renders it useful in the treatment of oedema caused by both renal and cardiac origin. It is used in irrigation therapy of urinary tract and has been advocated for use to prevent renal stones. To bring out the diuretic activity it was recommended that the root or the shoot be boiled and the decoction consumed. It is also prescribe in cases of cystitis and pyelitis. [5][14][15][16]

A. officinalis is very useful in the treatment arthritis including chronic gout, rheumatoid arthritis and simple rheumatism. It is a gentle aperitif and is recommended in relieving intestinal obstruction. Its diuretic property has been taken advantage of an recommended in cases of cardiac dropsy. It is also considered a galactagogue, an emmenagogue and aphrodisiac. [4][5][14][15][16][17]

Preclinical Data


Cytotoxic activity

Two steroidal saponins (methyl protodioscin and protodioscin) from A.officinalis were found to inhibit the growth of human leukaemia HL-60 cells in culture and macromolecular synthesis. The inhibitory effect on DNA synthesis seemed to be irreversible. Another steroidal saponin, Asparanin A, also exhibit active cytotoxic activity. It was found to have induced G(2)/M phase arresat and apoptosis in human hepatocellular carcinoma HepG2 cells. [7][18]

Nine steroids was isolated from the roots of A. officinalis. Of these eight showed significant cytotoxicity against human A2780, HO-8910, Eca-109, MGC-803, CNE, LTEP-a-2, KB and mouse L1210 tumour cells. [12]

Anti-COX-1 and COX-2 activity

Of the 13 compound identified in the methanol extract of aerial parts of A. officinalis, linoleic acid proved to be most effective against both cyclo-oxygenase-1 and -2. [11] 

Antidiabetic activity

The aqueous extract of the discarded portion of asparagus spears and the methanol of the asparagus seed exhibits antidiabetic activities in differing ways. The aqueous extracts of the spears were able to reduce fasting blood glucose and triglyceride levels in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats probably by increasing hepatic glycogen storage activities. On the other hand the methanol extracts of the seeds improved glycaemic control by improving insulin secretion and beta-cell functions. [19][20]

Hypolipidaemic and Hepatoprotective activities

Various extraction processes of the discarded portion of A.officinalis showed significant hypolipidaemic and hepatoprotective effects. The extracts tested by various authorities included ethanolic, aqueous and n-butanol extracts. All these extracts were found to be effective in lowering serum total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein cholesterol while at the same time were able to increase the high density lipoprotein. They also showed protective activity against liver damage as evidenced by the ability to decvrease levels of alanine transaminase, aspartate transaminase and alkaline phosphatase in blood. There were also evidences of antioxidative activities in the extracts. [21][22][23][24]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

No documentation.


No documentation.

Side effects

No documentation.

Pregnancy/Breast Feeding

No documentation.

Age limitation

No documentation.

Adverse reaction

There had been many reported cases of contact dermatitis as a result of handling of A. officinalis during production. This is due to both delayed cell-mediated reaction and IgE-mediated reactions. Recently some investigators had attributed the allergic reaction to the presence of 1,2,3-trithiane-5-carboxylic acid which is a plant growth inhibitor present in the young shoots. There has been cases reported of developing more severe allergic reactions which includes dyspnoea, dysphagia and even anaphylaxis. [25][26][27][28]

Interaction & Depletion

Interaction with drug

The A.officinalis has been found to have hypoglycaemic activity. This could have cumulative effects on those diabetic patients on antidiabetic drugs. [19][20]

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.


No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of A. officinalis [2]


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Asparagus officinalis L. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 May 31]. Available from:
  2. Asparagus officinalis L. In: Siemonsma JS, Piluek K, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 8. Vegetables. Wageningen, Netherlands: Pudoc Scientific Publishers; 1993.
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  7. Shao Y, Poobrasert O, Kennelly EJ, et al. Steroidal saponins from Asparagus officinalis and their cytotoxic activity. Planta Med. 1997 Jun;63(3):258-62.
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  10. Huang X, Kong L. Steroidal saponins from roots of Asparagus officinalis. Steroids. 2006;71(2):171-176.
  11. Sakaguchi Y, Ozaki Y, Miyajima I, et al. Major anthocyanins from purple asparagus (Asparagus officinalis). Phytochemistry. 2008;69(8):1763-1766.
  12. Huang XF, Lin YY, Kong LY. Steroids from the roots of Asparagus officinalis and their cytotoxic activity. J Integr Plant Biol. 2008;50(6):717-722.
  13. Sun Z, Huang X, Kong L. A new steroidal saponin from the dried stems of Asparagus officinalis L. Fitoterapia. 2010;81(3):210-213.
  14. Pereira J. The elements of materia medica and therapeutics. Volume 2. Part 1. London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1855; p. 211.
  15. Ong HC. Vegetables for health and healing. Kuala Lumpur: Utusan Publications, 2008; p. 34-35.
  16. Hanelt P, editor. Mansfeld's encyclopedia of agricultural and horticultural crops: (except ornamentals). Berlin: Springer, 2001; p. 2189-2190.
  17. Barton BH, Castle T. The British flora medica; or, History of the medicinal plants of Great Britain. London: Henry G. Bohn, York Street, Convent Garden, 1837; p. 33-35.
  18. Liu W, Huang XF, Qi Q, et al. Asparanin A induces G(2)/M cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in human hepatocellular carcinoma HepG2 cells. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2009;381(4):700-705.
  19. Zhao J, Zhang W, Zhu X, et al. The aqueous extract of Asparagus officinalis L. by-product exerts hypoglycaemic activity in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. J Sci Food Agric. 2011;91(11):2095-2099.
  20. Hafizur RM, Kabir N, Chishti S. Asparagus officinalis extract controls blood glucose by improving insulin secretion and β-cell function in streptozotocin-induced type 2 diabetic rats. Br J Nutr. 2012; 108(9):1586-1595.
  21. Kim BY, Cui ZG, Lee SR, et al. Effects of Asparagus officinalis extracts on liver cell toxicity and ethanol metabolism. J Food Sci. 2009;74(7):H204-208.
  22. Zhu X, Zhang W, Zhao J, Wang J, Qu W. Hypolipidaemic and hepatoprotective effects of ethanolic and aqueous extracts from Asparagus officinalis L. by-products in mice fed a high-fat diet. J Sci Food Agric. 2010;90(7):1129-1135.
  23. Zhu X, Zhang W, Pang X, Wang J, Zhao J, Qu W. Hypolipidemic effect of n-butanol Extract from Asparagus officinalis L. in mice fed a high-fat diet. Phytother Res. 2011;25(8):1119-1124.
  24. García MD, De la Puerta R, Sáenz MT, Marquez-Martín A, Fernández-Arche MA. Hypocholesterolemic and hepatoprotective effects of "triguero" asparagus from andalusia in rats fed a high cholesterol diet. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:814752.
  25. Hausen BM, Wolf C. 1,2,3-Trithiane-5-carboxylic acid, a first contact allergen from Asparagus officinalis (Liliaceae). Am J Contact Dermat. 1996;7(1):41-46.
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