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Any plant of the genus Asparagus (lily family), which contains about 300 species native from Siberia to southern Africa. The best-known and economically most important species is the garden asparagus (A. officinalis), cultivated as a green vegetable for its succulent spring stalks. Several African species are grown as ornamental plants. The poisonous species prized for their delicate and graceful foliage are A. plumosus (the feathery asparagus fern, or florists' fernnot a true fern), A. sprengeri, and A. asparagoides.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on asparagus, visit Britannica.com.