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Family Liliaceae / Asparagaceae
Asparagus fern
Asparagus plumosus Baker.

ORNAMENTAL ASPARAGUS
Wen zhu

Scientific names Common names
Asparagus comorensis Hort. Asparagus fern (Engl.)
Asparagus setaceus (Kunth) Jessop Climbing asparagus fern (Engl.)
Asparagus plumosus Baker Climbing feather fern (Engl.)
Asparagopsis setacea Kunth Esparrago plumosa (Span.)
  Common asparagus fern (Engl.)
  Feather fern (Engl.)
  Ornamental asparagus (Engl.)
  Wen zhu (Chin.)

Other vernacular names
DANISH: Slørasparges.
FRENCH: Asparagus des fleuristes.
SPANISH: Esparrago plumosa, Esparraguera de las floristas.
THAI: Prong fa.

Gen info
Genus Asparagus of the Liliaceae family is of medical importance because of its steroidal sapogenins used as precursors for many pharmacologically active steroids.

Botany
Asparagus fern is a slender, climbiing or ascending, branched perennial, with round, green and wiry stems, with very numerous slender branches and branchlets that spread horizontally, forming triangular fernlike sprays, with the upper internodes 1 to 2 millimeters long. Leaves (cladodes) are setaceous, very slender, 3 to 5 millimeters long, ascending or spreading, 6 to 12 in a fascicle. Flowers are small, perfect, solitary at the ends of the branches, with very short pedicels, about 1 millimeter long. Perianth-segments are about 2 millimeters long and spreading. Fruit is a purple and black ovoid berry.

Distribution
- Cultivated for ornamental use.
- Recently introduced.
- Native of Africa.
- Cultivated in most warm countries.

Constituents
• Study isolated furostanol glycosides from Asparagus plumosus leaves.

Properties
•Traditionally, antimalarial, diuretic.

Uses
Folkloric
- Not known in the Philippines for its medicinal application.
- In Mexico a decoction of the branches are used for pulmonary infections; decoction of roots used as a diuretic.
- In Tanzania, the Lobedu drink a cold infusion of leaves and stem for malaria.
- In Pakistan, root tubers used with boiled milk and sugar for dysentery and diarrhea.
Others
- Ornamental: The cuts sprays of the asparagus fern are ornamental favorites among florists for its beauty and lasting quality.

Studies
Phytochemicals / Glycosides: (1) A methanolic extract study of leaves of A plumosus yielded two new furostanol glycosides (2) Study yielded three spirostanol glycosides from the leaves.

Availability
Cultivated for ornmental use.
Seeds in the cybermarket.

Last Updated March 2013

Photos ©Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
(1)
New Furostanol Glycosides from Asparagus plumosus Leaves / O. P. Sati, G. Pant / J. Nat. Prod., 1985, 48 (3), pp 390–394 / DOI: 10.1021/np50039a006
(2)
Spirostanol glycosides from Asparagus plumosus / O P Sati and G Pant / Phytochemistry • Volume 24, Issue 1, 1985, Pages 123-126 / doi:10.1016/S0031-9422(00)80820-1
(3)
Traditional Fever remedies: a list of Zambian plants / D G Fowler
(4)
Sapogenins at Different Ploidy Levels of Asparagus / D K Kar and Sumitra Sen / Current Science, Feb 20, 1986, Vol 55, No 4
(5)
Sorting Asparagus names / Porcher Michel H. et al. 1995 - 2020 / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / A Work in Progress / Copyright © 1997 - 2000 The University of Melbourne.
(6)
Asparagus setaceus (Kunth) Jessop / Chinese names / Catalogue of Life, China
(7)
Indigenous knowledge and folk use of medicinal plants by the tribal communities of Hazar Nao Forest, Malakand District, North Pakistan / Waheed Murad*, Ashfaq Ahmad, Syed Abdullah Gilani and Mir Ajab Khan / Journal of Medicinal Plants Research Vol. 5(7), pp. 1072-1086, 4 April, 2011


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