The name, Asparagus is the Latinized form of an old Greek word that evolved into Anglo-saxon use, but colloquialisms in England and America have resulted in sparagrass, sparrowgrass, and, in some cases, just grass.
No one is certain where asparagus originated because it grows wild in so many areas of the world, although it is believe to have originated in the Mid East and Asia Minor. Asparagus appears on ditch banks, streams, and even in salty soils near bodies of salt water where it has escaped cultivation.
The plant received its first recorded recognition as a way to prevent a host of ailments including heart trouble, toothache, and bee stings. The Greeks collected it from the wild, but the Romans gathered the best of the wild seeds and cultivated it in their gardens. They ate it fresh and dried it to boil when it was out of season. Supposedly, the Emperor Augustus was very fond of it.
Asparagus found a niche in North European and British diets for as long as records are available, and is now universally popular throughout the world.
Each plant bears only either male flowers or female flowers. To produce seed, the two types must grow close to one another. Female plants will produce red berries on their ferns. Male plants grow more and larger spears because they do not have to put energy into seed production.
Evidence is yet inconclusive, but male plants may not live for as long as female plants.
Plants take two to three years to come into full production, but will remain productive for up to 30 to 35 years and will live much longer.
After plants produce, they grow to tall, feathery graceful forms which can be an added decoration for flower beds. Edible asparagus is closely related to asparagus fern, also known as springeri fern.