Asparagus (L. name Asparagus Officinalis) is a perennial flowering plant. The young stems of the plants are edible and eaten as spring vegetables. These succulent spring stalks are nutrient-dense. They contain folate, fiber, Vitamin K, C, and A and deliver several health benefits.
But do you know several weeds look like Asparagus? You will get to know the names and the similar features in this read.
Asparagus Look-Alike Weeds
Some of the lookalike plants mentioned below might be unfit for human consumption. That is why you need to know how to distinguish between a real Asparagus and a similar-looking weed.
Scientific name: Reynoutria japonica
Japanese Knotweed is not only similar to Asparagus in appearance but also in taste. When cooked, it savors just like the garden Asparagus, but it should not be eaten raw. A notable similarity is visible during the early sprouting days in April. Japanese knotweed stems appear as reddish-purple and have Asparagus-like fat spears.
Nonetheless, all resemblance starts fading out as the plant grows rapidly (it can grow up to 2 cm every day) and soon outgrows the surrounding plants with a green heart and shield leaves. From this stage onwards, this Asparagus-looking weed can turn harmful for residential and commercial properties.
Scientific name: Agave americana
Yes, Agave stalks belong to the same family as Asparagus, and some similarities are natural. When fully grown, the agave plant looks like giant Asparagus. It begins as a flower spike in the early spring from the middle of the rosette-like leaf structure. These spikes grow till the flower spike starts resembling an Asparagus spear.
Finally, the closeness ends when the flower on the spike starts blooming. Agave stalks are considered a highly invasive species in several parts of Australia and the rest of the world.
Scientific name: Equisetum arvense
Horsetail is a weed that looks like Asparagus fern. The only closeness with asparagus is visible in stems that closely resemble the former. Nonetheless, it is a highly invasive weed capable of growing on a range of ground surfaces from boggy ground to sand dunes. Also, the notorious weed breed stems out fast, can re-sprout from underground stems, and is highly resistant to herbicides.
Scientific name: Equisetum arvense
Asparagus fern is named so due to the fronds that look exactly like the top of the stalk of asparagus. The grass looks like Asparagus, but you know it’s a different plant as you watch closely. Though mostly kept as an ornamental plant in houses, it is regarded as an invasive weed in Florida, Hawaii, and New Zealand. The ‘fern’ word is also a misnomer as Asparagus Fern reproduces by seed and not by spores like ferns.
Blue Wild Indigo
Scientific name: Baptisia australis
Blue wild indigo or indigo weed grows near streams and several wooded areas across the United States. It belongs to the family Fabaceae (legumes). This upright flowering plant can grow up to a height of 4 meters and looks like asparagus during its development.
The new sprouts are gray to purple and look like asparagus stalks. But unlike Asparagus, you cannot eat them as these are poisonous. The weed is reported to be toxic for grazing animals too. However, the plants are beneficial for the environment and help conserve water.
Why Should You Be Bothered About Plants And Grass That Looks like Asparagus?
Even though these Asparagus lookalike weeds are not potentially life-threatening, yet they may harm you and your property. Therefore you should know what weeds or grasses look like asparagus.
We will explain this with an example. For instance, while you can eat Asparagus raw, the same is not suggested for Japanese Knotweed. The Asparagus-looking weed is non-toxic and non-poisonous, but eating it raw can lead to skin irritation.
Similarly, other plants have some closeness to Asparagus, which can be mistaken and misunderstood. I hope this article helps you differentiate the real from the unreal.