Its Asparagus Week on iNaturalist! May 08 - May 14, 2016


The huge, diverse Asparagus family (Asparagaceae) is the quarry for this week on the Critter Calendar!

Formerly considered part of the Lily family, it’s hard to pin down traits shared by all of the the Asparagaceae, but the number three is important to remember. Most have three petals and three sepals on their flowers, as well as six stamens a pistil split into three parts. Leaves usually have parallel veins.


The word asparagus will normally bring to mind Garden Asparagus, whose fleshy shoots are one of the oldest recorded cultivated vegetables. The plant quickly becomes woody once it starts to bloom, however, and is not culinarily important once that happens.

Other common or interestings members of the asparagus family are:

The subfamily Avagoideae, which counts plants like the desert growing Agave and Yucca genuses. These plants have tough, pointy leaves occurring in rosettes. Yuccas, like the iconic Joshua Tree, are pollinated only by the Yucca Moths, some of whom actually purposefully transfer pollen among the flowers. Their larae eat developing yucca seeds.

The Brodiaeoideae subfamily boasts colorful flowers that grow in umbels on a long stem known as a scape. They grow from starchy corms, which are underground stems used to store food for the plant.

Plants of the Scilloideae include commonly known garden flowers like hyacinths, bluebells and squills. They have a rosette of fleshy leaves at the base and grow from an underground bulb. Their flowers are bell-shaped and formed by six tepals, which is a term used for flower parts which can’t be separated into petals and sepals.

Lily of the vally is a highly toxic flowering plant that is often grown in gardens and used at weddings. It, too, has bell-shaped flowers made up of six tepals.

Asparagus family members grow worldwide and in many types of habitats, so get out there at find some! We’ll be keep track here. Happy asparagus hunting!

Posted by loarie loarie, May 08, 2016 06:18

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