ASPARAGUS (Asparagus officinalis)

Always leave at least one stem in the asparagus bed to blossom — for luck, though actually it is no more than common sense — that is the way to get seed for next year’s sowing. Like parsley, asparagus must not be transplanted. Someone in the family would die if that were done. That, at least, was once the belief in Devonshire. Another strange belief was that if asparagus root were worn as an amulet (for what purpose?) the wearer became barren (then why wear it?). Dreaming of it, gathered and tied up in bundles, is an omen of tears. On the other hand, dreaming of it growing, is a sign of good fortune. The roots were once used on the Continent for “falsifying sarsaparilla”.

There have been some medicinal uses. It is diuretic, “a powerful diuretic“, Hill (1754) would have it, and it is used in homeopathy for dropsy and rheumatism, the latter complaint was also treated with this plant in Ireland, as was gout. Indiana folk medicine also advised eating lots of asparagus, which, they claimed, brought relief in just a few days. Thomas Hill (1577) listed the ailments to be treated with “sperage” as “the Palsie, King’s Evil [scrofula], Strangurie, a hard Milt [spleen], and stopping of the Liver”.