Monday, October 25, 2010

Where Are the Wild Asparagus?

In Euell Gibbons book Stalking the Wild Asparagus he writes, "Wild food is clean because it has never been dirty." All of the asparagus shown in this essay grow along the roadside where heavy traffic leaves its own toxins behind. That fact should not deter you from either reading Mr. Gibbons' book or stalking asparagus on you own, by the roadside or not.

Wild asparagus spears rise from the tuberous root stock and become ferns collecting the energy of the sun to sustain growth. If all spears are harvested the plant will not survive and produce in future years. Enough spears must be left behind or there will be no spears the following year.

Finding wild asparagus in the springtime is easier if you know where the tender spears are. In the early spring, middle April to middle May here in the Boulder Valley, grasses hide the emerging asparagus. By observing where asparagus are during their life cycle it is easier to find them when they are edible.

The ferns are a distinctive green and can be spotted with ease while traveling around the Boulder Valley. Knowing that the seeds are spread by bird droppings will also give you an idea of where to look. Fence, telephone, power lines, and trees present the perfect resting spot for birds. All of the pictures presented are in those obvious locations.

The asparagus ferns become laden with seeds that turn red in the fall. These are a great food source for birds and should not be harvested for personal use as they are poisonous to humans. This particular clump of asparagus is one of the larger ones I've seen. The person that mows the grasses surrounding this stand takes care each year to allow the asparagus to prosper. Though this asparagus grows on public land it should be left on its own to grow to an even greater size.

The berries become a brilliant red asking the birds to spread the seed.

About a month after the Aspen start to turn in the mountains the asparagus turn a beautiful yellow throughout the Boulder Valley. Just as the green of summer stands out as distinctive the yellow of fall is like a signal flag. These asparagus grow in the ditch outside of and all along the fence of Bob Munson's pumpkin field.

Directly across the street from Bob are more asparagus in the fence line of Cure Farm. The fence denotes private land and these asparagus would be off limits for those stalking wild asparagus.

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