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How to Plant and Grow Wild Asparagus

Penelope lived in Tuscany among the olive groves and farms for years, learning from local people about their culture, land, and food.

Wild asparagus shoot.

Wild asparagus shoot.

Before You Start Searching for Wild Asparagus

The wild asparagus plant is Nature's gift, produced without any assistance or manipulation. It is a fine, ghostly, fuzzy-looking bush of green angel's hair. Country people here in Tuscany call the areas where the plant grows wild asparagiaia.

Here, you'll find everything you need to know about how to plant wild asparagus, how to forage for it, and more, including...

  • Supplies needed
  • Where and when to find it
  • How to identify it (since it is really camouflaged among the grasses)
  • How to dig it out (with the crown or root)
  • How to plant (from the crown or from seed)
  • How fun it is to pick
  • How to prepare a wild asparagus pasta dish!

Supplies Needed

For this asparagus (crown) hunt, you will need:

  • a garden trowel
  • a basket of some sort, or a bucket or sack to put the crowns in
  • a walking stick (to move back prickly plants—make sure there are no snakes)
  • long pants
  • hiking boots or sturdy shoes or even Wellington boots if it is raining.


Asparagus plant

Asparagus plant

Where to Forage for Asparagus Crowns

You will find wild asparagus thriving today in North America and Western Europe in gritty, grassy areas along walls, ditches, field borders, park fences, reservoir banks, wooded areas, rural roadsides, prairies, and inaccessible sea slopes—if you can spot it!

Look for it in areas where it thrives, such as the edges of undergrowth, where the sun shines. There the fine pale-green, ghostly bushes quietly hide among the stronger undergrowth of leaves and twigs. The green asparagus shoot will be standing in front of your eyes, slightly to the side of the plant, sometimes as far away as three feet. Independent and proud as it is, at first you just can't see it, till, there it is! You recognize it. And another one. And more.

Wild asparagus loves lots of space underground and produces more shoots as the spring season progresses. It needs to be wild. (Some farmers plant it alongside ditches to stop erosion because of its extensive root formation.)

A word of warning: Trespassing on private property is unlawful since it is considered theft to dig plants from land you do not own. Either you'll need to procure the landowner's permission. Perhaps offer his wife a box of chocolates, promise to close the gates behind you and not litter. Try all sincere ploys. You could even offer the farmer some of your asparagus. Why not?

The shoots grow within a three feet radius of the plant.

The shoots grow within a three feet radius of the plant.

How to Identify Wild Asparagus Plants

People who are good at spotting wild asparagus would also be good at spotting octopuses in coral. It takes a well-trained eye, but once you spot it, like kissing, you will never forget it.

  • The asparagus shoots grow independently from the plant, straight up, sticking from the ground like miniature fleshy Chrysler buildings.
  • The wild kind is slimmer than its cultivated brother and unlike him, the stems are not pale but a camouflage-green. (It can be almost brown in color if it is in a shady area. It will be pale green if it stands in the sunlight all day long.)
New asparagus plant.

New asparagus plant.

How to Take Out the Plants

  1. First, find the asparagus plants. Here in Tuscany, they will be in the asparagaie.
  2. With your trowel, dig round the plant—ideally after a rain when the ground is moist. The bigger the plant, the bigger the area you'll dig round the base. The bigger the plant, the more asparagus it will yield.
  3. For larger plants, dig proportionately wider (say 12" wide on a large plant) and deep (about 12- 20" depending on the size of the plant) in order to avoid damaging the crowns.
  4. Take the crowns carefully out of the soil.
Dig a hole.

Dig a hole.

Plant the wild asparagus.

Plant the wild asparagus.

When to Plant Asparagus

They are hardy and will survive with little attention...

  • as long as the soil is well-drained and moist,
  • if they have about 6 feet of space around them in all directions for their roots to do their thing,
  • if they're planted in a sunny location, and
  • with plenty of water for the first few weeks.

If you follow these steps in the spring, you may leave them through the summer.

Smaller plants, taken out of the ground at the end of spring, need to be planted straight away before the roots dry.

If you dig up your wild asparagus crowns at the end of summer, however, you can keep them in a dry place through the winter (such as your garden shed, barn, or garage).

Plant them in early spring (after threat of frost).

Planting by the side of the house.

Planting by the side of the house.

Where to Plant the Asparagus Crowns

We plant our asparagus plants along the side of the house where there is a gritty soil and a lot of sun. Each year, another asparagus plant waves bushy, frizzy-green against the stone walls; nearby, a tender shoot springs up. Interestingly, many other market garden plants (such as peppers and eggplant) do not do as well as our wild asparagus in that area. We think it is because the soil isn't rich enough for them there.

Asparagus crowns, with (or without) their little tuft of green shoots, can be planted in rows in a market garden like other proud vegetables; in tilled, well watered, mulched earth, high soil pH values (around 7.0). leaving about five feet between each crown for root growth.

I think they do very well planted at a distance from each other all along garden fences, or at the back of a garden where they can spread out and multiply randomly, which they like. It's a good idea to plant them along driveways to keep the banks in place. It would be like a homecoming for them and they would trumpet their happiness.

You can harvest asparagus to eat all through the spring season (from late February till May when the grass is too high to pick them and they have begun to dry in the hotter sun, and turn weedy to look at, almost flowery). Each shoot can grow six or seven inches in one day after a rainfall.

At the end of spring, the unpicked asparagus stems grow in a wild way, bending this way and that, getting fine and becoming the plants of the next year.


Wild Asparagus Is Free

Wild asparagus emerges as winter begins to bore us and before spring actually takes its first leap. It's an ante-spring thing, a pre-delizia. It is the epitome of the promise of what is to come. Wild asparagus is a freak— it tastes crazy and is much better than the cultivated variety from greenhouses. It's the real thing. It's the difference between a nap in the sun with your lover and an eight hour rest on a Permaflex.

  • It doesn't cost anything.
  • So easy to plant and grow and it continues to produce asparagus shoots for 15 years.
  • It tastes delicious!

Recipe idea from a Tuscany farmhouse: Taste it finely chopped and tossed in a small pan with olive oil, chopped garlic, and cilli pepper, poured over spaghetti (al dente), grated pecorino cheese on the top, and eat it just as soon as you get your boots off.


Did You Know?

  • The wild asparagus we have growing in our hedgerows in Tuscany is the same as the kind found growing in Ancient Greece and Rome.
  • Egyptians cultivated it from wild 2,000 years ago.
  • It comes from the Persian word "asparg" which means shoot.
  • It stimulates erotic desires. An Arabian love manual provides an aphrodisiac recipe since it contains plenty of vitamin A and C and taken over three consecutive days will have a most powerful effect!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: Is digging up wild asparagus illegal?

Answer: It is perfectly legal in Italy to pick wild asparagus. We don’t dig it up, we simply pick it. I’d say it wouldn’t be illegal anywhere to pick wild asparagus.

Question: Can I sell wild asparagus seeds? I live in California.

Answer: Asparagus grows from its bulb, not from seeds, so you’d need to plant the bulb you find while your out foraging.

Question: I'm in Kansas and just brought home my first decent haul and tickled pink about it. I live in the country and must say once you have seen that amazing plant you never forget it. Btw, my Daddy could spot a morel from a mile away we used to joke. So being my first time I'm wondering is it just the pretty shoot or can you eat the stalk of the bushy part for the wild aspargus?

Answer: Yes, you can eat a lot of the stalk. You snap it where it snaps in a clean break, the lower part being too tough. It isn’t something you can measure! Just try to bend the stalk with some confidence and it will snap where the divide between okay and too hard is.

Question: Does wild asparagus grow in Arkansas?

Answer: I live in Europe so unfortunately, I can’t tell you if wild asparagus grows in Arkansas but if you go foraging in the spring months and you have a photograph of the ferny leafy growth of the plant, then you will know that there will be an asparagus shoot growing nearby.

Question: is it illegal to take plants from the wild?

Answer: Foraging for food is a part of the culture in Italy. As long as you get permission to be on the land if it is owned, and refrain from damaging property, it's okay. Walking along hedgerows and lanes while picking asparagus, or nettles, or mushrooms, or chicory is fine! These are not protected species.

© 2012 Penelope Hart


Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on January 23, 2020:

Thank you for your interesting input! I’m going to search for that Wild Sicilian asparagus everywhere. The fact that it is wild is what intrigues me since wild asparagus has such a powerful asparagus taste - compared to cultivated asparagus.

Stephem on January 19, 2020:

Wild Sicilian asparagus can be grown from seed. Pick the litte red berries and remove the little black seeds. You usually get one black seed per berry but sometimes get two and on a rare occasion you get three. I plant my Wild Sicilian asperagus seeds in one inch seed pots in seed starting soil. The seed trays are placed on a heating mat. They are very slow to germinate but have a high germination rate. Follow instructions found on the internet for growing any variety of asparagus from seed.

Danielrr4 on April 11, 2017:

We have lots of "wild" asparagus here in the Missouri ozarks. I don't like it myself but my girlfriend AND her cat just go crazy for it. I find it along the roads by spotting the ferns and them looking around them for the shoots. The "Martha Washington" variety grows well from seeds, most other strains don't.

BTW , My girlfriend says the "wild" asparagus doesn't make her P stink.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on March 10, 2017:

Thanks so much for commenting. Actually, these photos are from Italy. I've never looked for wild asaparagus in England, so good luck.

Kristi on March 09, 2017:

Omg you have them in England?! Yesssss, I grew up in Croatia and I absolutely adore them wild ones are way better then garden ones, I live in Australia at the moment for last 20 years and I miss wild asparagus as we don't have them here, but soon we plan to move to England and finding this you just made my day!!!!!

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on April 15, 2015:

You find wild asparagus right now in the fields very near to towns in Southern Europe.

I don't think you can buy seeds for wild asparagus. They grow from bulbs.

Agelos on April 14, 2015:

Very nice hub and the info is just great. I live in town so to find wild asparagus is not possible.

Where i can find seeds of wild asparagus to buy? Any good site in the net?

sory for my English. I am from europe

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on March 26, 2015:

Thanks for vote!

peachy from Home Sweet Home on March 25, 2015:

useful hub, i like the details about planting and the pics, voted up

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on February 13, 2013:

You get wild asparagus to grow from transplanting wild asparagus bulbs/ roots as you see in the video. Wild asparagus grows wild. Other types may come from seeds but these are not the asparagus we have growing round us in the fields, that my article is about.

Thanks for your question.

thaspi on February 12, 2013:

The above article says that we can create new wild asparagus plants from wild asparagus seeds...

Is it correct?

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on February 06, 2013:

Wild asparagus grows from the bulb in the ground. I don't think it ever comes from the seed!

thaspi on February 06, 2013:

Yestreday, I gathered some black-colour berries fron wild asparagus plants. Are they seeds???

Because, I have read that they are red-color....

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on November 05, 2012:

I don't know about purple asparagus, sorry. Not sure it's Ok to post links in the comments capsule.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on November 02, 2012:

You could try moving it now if it isn't too cold - though this time of year isn't very good because nature is beginning to die down. Thanks for your comment.

thaspi on November 02, 2012:

Dear GoodLady,

It is a wonderful and useful web page…

Please inform me, if I can take out a wild asparagus plant right now, in order to transplant it in my garden. Or I have to wait until the end of spring...

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on October 05, 2012:

alexandry. wild asparagus, once you've had it, you never forget how great it is. I've heard that it does grow in the States but right now i can't remember where I'm sorry. Northern California i think. Thanks for your comment.

Adrienne Farricelli on October 05, 2012:

Oh, how I miss those wild asparagus dearly! My grandma used to make a frittata and it was subliminal. Thanks for bringing back good memories, we used to go looking for them in the country or it was sold in flea markets around town, but I had no luck finding any markets that sell them in the States yet.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on August 28, 2012:

Wild asparagus is exciting and wonderful. We agree on that! Glad you liked my Hub and many thanks for your votes and comments. Best wishes.

Kate P from The North Woods, USA on August 28, 2012:

This is an absolutely superb hub and is fascinating to boot. Wild asparagus is beautiful, and you've given us a wealth of information to help us spot it. Thanks for all of your hard work; it is truly an undertaking, and I appreciate the care and love you put into creating this.

Voted up, useful, awesome, beautiful, and interesting.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on August 20, 2012:

So you'll get one nice meal out of those asparagus won't you maybe every week through spring? Thanks for commenting.

formosangirl from Los Angeles on August 20, 2012:

GoodLady, what an interesting topic. I have two asparagus plants in my raised bed. Voted Up and Interesting.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on May 17, 2012:

A few people USA asked where to find it. Now I can send them all to Southern Oregon. Can I come too? I've always wanted to visit. Anyway, glad you enjoyed this and many thanks for your votes!

Sean Jankowski from Southern Oregon on May 17, 2012:

Fantastic article! GoodLady I hunt wild asparagus here in Southern Oregon in the orchards! So much fun and very tasty. Many of the migrant families here go on picking sprees in the Spring. Thanks for all the useful information. I'm giving it a UP a Useful, and Interesting.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on May 16, 2012:

I'll have to find out if it grows in USA. Thank you so much for dropping in and voting!

Marissa from United States on May 16, 2012:

Beautiful hub! I have to wonder if asparagus grows wild here. It'd be great if it did since we love to eat it!

Well done! Voted up, useful and beautiful. :)

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on May 16, 2012:

I didn't know it was bad for kidney stones! What a shame. It's usually food we forage for, like chicory or mushrooms. Thanks for commenting.

Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on May 16, 2012:

I love asparagus, but it doesn't love me. Bad for kidney stones they say.

Growing your own food must be nice.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on May 16, 2012:

Not sure, but maybe on the cliffs near the sea. Thanks for reading.

Bev G from Wales, UK on May 16, 2012:

Another stunning hub. I have to find out if wild asparagus grows in the UK.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on May 15, 2012:

jellygator my brother has some in Paso Robles. Not sure where else. I'd like to go on a morel hunt! If I find out more where they grow in the States I'll be in touch. Thanks for commenting.

jellygator from USA on May 15, 2012:

I love asparagus, and your hub says it grows in N. America, but I haven't ever seen any plants like those in Kansas when we go on our morel hunts each year. I did know a woman in Missouri who grew them and said they were tough to keep alive. Do you know if they're only in certain areas of the U.S.? I'll be all over that hunt if they're everywhere.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on May 15, 2012:

angela_michelle the Iphone takes a neat picture, thanks for commenting.

Angela Michelle Schultz from United States on May 15, 2012:

Great job on this article. Great photos too, I wish I could take that nice of photos.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on May 03, 2012:

EuroCafeLait thanks! Hope you manage to cultivate your own, happy hunting for the crowns late summer! Let me know.

seh1101 Asparagus is such an easy plant to grow and multiply, so why not? Nice to know where you live! Thanks for comment. Good luck.

Sean Hemmer from Wisconsin, USA on May 03, 2012:

Great hub! I've been deeply considering tilling up another small garden and dedicating it to asparagus and other wild veggies. I have been foraging for asparagus and morel mushrooms for the past month due to the warm spring. I cannot believe I'm enjoying fresh pickings already (in Wisconsin). Cheers, and grow on!

Anastasia Kingsley from Croatia, Europe on May 02, 2012:

Hi Goodlady, when I saw this I almost flipped. It grows wild here and people are always on the lookout for it at this time of year (Spring). Thanks to your Hub, now I know how to cultivate my own. Great Hub - lots of great photos! Up and awesome!!

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on May 02, 2012:

Hi Janis. Thanks, they only grow through the spring, so maybe next year you can find them.

Brainy Bunny, really glad you found the video and pics helpful. Thanks for supportive comment.

Brainy Bunny from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on May 02, 2012:

The pictures and video are very helpful on this topic, I guess because the asparagus hides so well. Great info!

Janis Goad on May 02, 2012:

I didn't know asparagus grew in the wild! Interesting, informative hub, Good Lady. I love asparagus. Not sure they overwinter here, though.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on May 02, 2012:

Hope you find it near you. It's actually too late to look for it now because the grass is too high and the plants will have flowered, but next year. It's great.

Thanks for your comments Just Ask Susan!

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on May 02, 2012:

Asparagus is my favourite vegetable but I don't think I've ever had wild asparagus before. I will definitely be on the look out for some now.

Very educational hub!

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on May 02, 2012:

sofs, hi! Not sure if they are an Australian plant, I'll have to look that up. They are hardy though!

Sophie on May 01, 2012:

Interesting! I may not find any them here where I live. But it sure was an interesting hub. Have a good day.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on May 01, 2012:

Sounds like a deal chrissieklinger! Thanks for reading and comment. Hope you find loads of it.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on May 01, 2012:

Thanks AliciaC - it's a very exciting plant!

chrissieklinger from Pennsylvania on May 01, 2012:

I really want to find some wild asparagus now. I live around a lot of farms, I may have to ask some of my neighbors if I can "hunt" for wild asparagus on their property. In exchange they can hunt for deer and turkey on mine!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 01, 2012:

Thank you for an enjoyable and informative hub, GoodLady, and for making the video. Wild asparagus sounds like a very interesting plant!

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on May 01, 2012:

Wish you could come and find some round our house! Maybe you will one day!

Judi Brown from UK on May 01, 2012:

Great hub - packed with information. I don't even like asparagus but I want to go out and find some! Love the video, well done.

Voted up etc