Asparagus officinalis. Asparagus.
Nat. Ord. — Liliaceae. Sex. Syst. — Hexandria Monogynia.
The Young Shoots.
Description. — Asparagus officinalis is a perennial plant, with an erect, herbaceous, unarmed, terete, very branching stem, from two to four feet high. The leaves are setaceous, flexible, fasciculate, filiform, of a pale pea-green color and from half an inch to one and a half inches long; flowers axillary, solitary, or in pairs. Berries globose, red, three-celled. Cells two-seeded.
History. — This plant is a native of Europe and is extensively cultivated there, as well as in the United States, as an article of diet. The root is inodorous, and has a weak sweetish taste ; when dried it is inert. The young shoots or turiones, which are much used as food, have a disagreeable taste, which is removed by boiling with water ; their juice contains a crystallizable principle called Asparagin or Asparamide.
Properties and Uses. — Diuretic. A syrup or an extract prepared from the young shoots, in doses of one or two fluidounces of the former, or from half a drachm to a drachm of the latter, is said to greatly increase the quantity of urine, and is reputed very beneficial in repressing an undue excitement of the circulatory system, and recommended for this purpose in hypertrophy of the heart, and other diseases of that organ, attended with excessive action, and without phlogosis of the stomach.