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Pakistan | Family List | Asparagaceae

Asparagus L., Sp. Pl. 1: 313. 1753. Gen. Pl. 147. 1754; Hook. f., Fl. Brit. Ind. 6: 314. 1892; Browicz in Rech. f., Fl. Iran. 165: 167. 1990; Kubitzki & Rudall in Kubitzki (ed.) Flowering Plants, Monocotyledons 3: 128. 1998.

S. I. Ali & Sher Wali Khan


Centre for Plant Conservation, University of Karachi, Karachi

Asparagus persicus
Illustration

Credit: Abrar Ali

Perennial herbs or subshrubs. Root cylindrical or fusiform, sometimes tuberous. Stem erect or twining, branched. Leaves scalelike, scariose, spurred at the base, spurs sometimes extending into spines, subtending 1-many cladodes. Inflorescence axillary or terminal solitary or cluster of flowers, sometimes a individuals with staminate flowers exhibit much variation in reduction of pistil, from fully functional to rudimentary. Pedicel articulated. Perianth campanulate or subglobose, tepals 6 in two series, free or connate at base. Stamens 6, filaments free and epiphyllous. Ovary superior, trilocular, axile placentation, ovules 2-many per locule, style with 3 short stigmatic branches or with capitate or lobate stigma. Fruit a berry.

Excluded Species:

1. Asparagus griffithii Baker in J. Linn. Soc. Bot. 14: 604. 1875.

R. R. Stewart Ann. Catalogue Vasc. Pl. W. Pak. Kashm. 50. 1972 has cited -Ghizr region, Gilgit, e. of Shandur Pass, Kerstan 2020. We have not been able to trace this specimen. R. R. Stewart (l. c.) has also stated that according to Wendelbo it is of doubtful status.

2. Asparagus deltae Blatter in J. Ind. Bot. Soc. 6(2): 70-71. 1927. .

S. Y. Kamble (J. Econ. Tax. Bot. 10(1): 163-166. 1987) has published a paper on the identity of Asparagus deltae Blatt. He has given the photograph of the Holotype (Gholam, Blatter 715 (BLATT) and claims to have examined all the other specimens of Asparagus deltae deposited in Blatter Herbarium. He has stated that the specimens are poor and lacking mature flowers and fruits, however, he found some seeds and a broken piece of inflorescence in the packet affixed to Blatt. 716 (BLATT). He found that there were only female flowers with very much reduced or no perianth or petals glabrous ovary and reniform 1.5mm long brown and papillose seeds. He did not f ind articulated pedicel, smooth and globose seeds, characteristic of Asparagus. He has come to the conclusion that Blatter wrongly identified Ochradenus baccatus Delile as an Asparagus. Hence Asparagus deltae Blatter is a synonym of Ochradenus baccatus Delile. The reasons advanced by Kamble are certainly convincing, but it is difficult to accept that Blatter could make such a mistake.


1 Inflorescence an axillary raceme, flowers bisexual.   (2)
+ Inflorescence a solitary flower or a cluster of flowers, flowers bisexual or unisexual.   (4)
       
2 (1) Stem suberect. Cladodes in fascicles of 5-20 ascending, erect or recurved.   1 Asparagus adscendens
+ Stem climbing. Cladodes in fascicles of (1)-3-6(-8), flat.   (3)
       
3 (2) Spines 1.5-2.0 cm on the main stem and 0.5-1.0 cm on branches; branch ± rectangular. Lower half of the articulated pedicel longer than the bract.   12 Asparagus racemosus
+ Spines 3-5 mm on the main stem and indistinct on branches. Lower half of the articulated pedicel shorter than the bract.   4 Asparagus densiflorus
       
4 (1) Stem and branches scabrous.   (5)
+ Stem and branches glabrous.   (6)
       
5 (4) Cladode up to 1.3 cm long. Flowers 2-4 per node.   5 Asparagus dumosus
+ Cladode up to 3.5 cm long. Flowers up to 12 per clus ter.   7 Asparagus gharoensis
       
6 (4) Cladode 3-15 (-20) x 0.6-1 (-2) mm flat, falcate, acute, median vein distinct.   Asparagus filicinus
+ Cladode not as above.   (7)
       
7 (6) Cladodes 7-25 per clus ter.   (8)
+ Cladodes 8 or less per clus ter.   (9)
       
8 (7) Stem suberect. Pedicel 5-15 mm articulated much above the middle or below, flowers unisexual.   9 Asparagus neglectus
+ Stem climbing. Pedicel <5 mm, articulated about the middle or below, flowers bisexual.   13 Asparagus setaceus
       
9 (7) Flowers bisexual. Pedicel articulated below the middle.   (10)
+ Flowers unisexual. Pedicel articulated above the middle.   (11)
       
10 (9) Flowers present only at the tip.   3 Asparagus capitatus subsp. capitatus
+ Flowers axillary or axillary and terminal on small branches.   3 Asparagus capitatus subsp. gracilis
       
11 (9) Pedicel articulated at the base of the perianth.   2 Asparagus breslirianus
+ Pedicel not articulated at the base of the perianth.   (12)
       
12 (11) Cladodes erecto-patent. Filaments adnate to perianth segments for c. ½ their length.   10 Asparagus officinalis
+ Cladodes not erecto-patent. Filaments not as above.   (13)
       
13 (12) Pedicel 3-4 mm long.   8 Asparagus monophyllus
+ Pedicel 10-20 mm long.   11 Asparagus persicus

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