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Wild asparagus and a (toxic ?) look-alike – Montenegro

March 31, 2013


Yesterday afternoon I spotted a few emerging wild asparagus shoots while walking through an olive grove. Wild asparagus is classified as Asparagus prostratus and thought to be a separate species then (rather then a subspecies of) the commercial / cultivated A. officinalis.

I snapped off a few stems and kept looking,  finding more, but also came across a very similar plant, growing in the same habitat with slightly longer, less rigid stems.

See comparison of photos below. The first is wild asparagus. The second photo is of a plant that grows in the same habitat and looks very similar, popping up as a shoot in early spring and snapping off at the tip.

Wild asparagus below. And a previous post of wild asparagus in Greece from a few years ago.

Wild asparagus, Montenegro

Below is the yet-unidentified asparagus look-alike. I will try to take some more photos of the developed plant / leaves for reference. From what I observed I believe it grows into a spiny vine with leaves that look like a Smilax spp. with a spiny underside. I will verify. Please let me know via the comment forum if you have any idea what it might be.

asparagus look - alike, montenegro

5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 4, 2013 10:08:05 pm

    I much prefer wild asparagus to the cultivated: it’s like expresso rather than instant. We’ve been picking it here in the South of France for a couple of weeks too. The other spears look very much like Smilax – and according to my reference books, that’s edible too. Did you try it?

    • April 4, 2013 10:08:19 pm

      Interesting and good to hear about the potential confirmation of that being a Smilax spp. I’ll look into it a bit more. Do you have a species name? I tried a bit raw, but only a limited amount, as I have had a number incidents (both good and bad) self-administering dubiously identified fruit/etc. From what I tried it didn’t taste poisonous. I’d be very interested to know if they’re edible as they seem to be popping up everywhere here.

      • April 4, 2013 10:08:05 pm

        I blogged about Smilax aspera on Oct 30th last year. All the web sources, including PFAF, say the shoots are edible as asparagus (to which Smilax is related), but none show a photo of the shoots so I think you’ve got a world exclusive there.

  2. April 8, 2013 10:08:34 pm

    2 asparagus (true and “like”) plants that are edible for the price of one? BONUS! 🙂 Cheers to both of you for sharing…off to check out lojardinier’s blog 🙂

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