Wild asparagus has been made famous by the book titled "Stalking the Wild Asparagus". Written in the early 1960's by Euel I Gibbons and Illustrated by Margaret F. Schroeder. Euel Gibbons books take a look at nature and all it has to offer. This is one of those books and includes a lovely section about his discovery of the wild spears as a child. Here you can find an exert that makes delightful reading. The book is published by David McKay Co., Inc
Birds love to eat berries and after they have eaten them they fly off elsewhere. With them they take the seeds and over a period of time plants grow, uncultivated, growing just as they please. This is the plant you can find if you are lucky.
If you followed the link above you will have read Euel Gibbons description of how to find it. But to summarise more briefly the key to finding the spears to cut is to look for the asparagus growth. If you can spot the growth in the autumn as it turns yellow and note where you have seen it you can then return in the spring hoping to find the spears growing. Alternatively look for the yellow / brown dead tops in the spring. They will be pretty much stripped of their fern like status by now but will be quite tall compared to many other dead plants. Then forage around at their feet.
If you are lucky enough to find some make sure you make the most of it. I suggest either simple steaming to eat with butter or eating it with a fresh salad.
According to the National Trust the plants grow on "coastal dunes and cliffs of Britain and Western Europe including Ireland, the Channel Islands, Northern Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and north-west Germany." The same source suggests that Dorset, Cornwall, Glamorgan and Pembrokeshire are the most common counties to find the vegetable in the UK and that it "mainly occurs within a few hundred metres of the sea in open, grassy vegetation, more rarely in gorse scrub. It occurs on sea cliffs, occasionally on sand dunes and is rarely found on shingle."
If you do find a site (or you go out in search of the spears or ferns please take care. Trampling by visitiors is reported as a potential threat and remember to only take what is sustainable.
The wild ferns are found in other regions around the world as is demonstrated by this article written by a forager in Alberta Canada, and this article will have you getting in your car and heading to France next spring!
If you have found wild asparagus it would be great to hear your story and the region you live in. We're not asking for exact locations, keep your secret spot secret, just an idea of regions around the world where its worth keeping our eyes open.
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I used to go "asparagus hunting with my Mom when I was growing up. And to make a long story short I now have taught my 4 kids (the youngest is 3) where …
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