16 Types of Asparagus Varieties ( Names & Pictures)

Asparagus, a perennial plant with the scientific name Asparagus officinalis is a vegetable grown for its edible shoots. It has been cultivated for thousands of years. It is native to Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia but is now cultivated in many parts of the world with suitable climates.

The edible part of the asparagus plant is the young shoots, which are commonly referred to as spears. The shoots are harvested while tender before they fully mature into fern-like foliage. The spears emerge from the soil in the spring and are harvested when they are 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 centimeters) tall. The color of the spears can be green, white or purple (which is common in many varieties).

Asparagus plants can grow to a height of up to 5 feet and have a spread of about 3 feet. Asparagus plant feature tall, slender, and feathery green stems that are topped with small, scale-like leaves. The plant also produces small, bell-shaped flowers that are either male or female. The male flowers are larger and somehow brighter than the female flowers.

The plant has a unique growth habit, with the shoots emerging from underground crowns and growing rapidly in the spring. In the garden, once established, it can produce a spring or early summer crop of edible spears for 15 years or more.

The plants prefer well-drained, sandy soils and full sun or partial shade. They are relatively hardy and can tolerate cold temperatures, but they do not do well in hot and humid conditions. The plant is grown from crowns (root systems of the plant). The crowns are planted in the spring and can take up to take three years before they begin full production, but in some places they may require some simple winterization each year, beginning the first fall after planting. 

Asparagus plants grow well in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 2 through 8. These plants have a rightly earned a reputation for being difficult to grow successfully, but they’re relatively low-maintenance. They do require regular watering and fertilization to produce a good crop. The plants should be kept free of weeds and pests, and the shoots should be harvested regularly to encourage new growth.

According to University of Florida, Asparagus is low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals. It is a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folate and iron. It is also a good source of fiber and antioxidants.

The shoots can be eaten raw or cooked. In many places, they’re steamed, boiled, or roasted. They can also be grilled or sautéed. They pair well with spring produce like morel mushrooms, green garlic, wild ramps, fennel, leeks, young lettuces and citrus.

Varieties of Asparagus

  • Green Asparagus
  • White Asparagus
  • Purple Asparagus
  • Wild Asparagus
  • Mary Washington
  • Jersey Giant Asparagus 
  • Pencil Thin Asparagus
  • Precoce D’Argenteuil
  • Atlas
  • Viking KB3
  • UC 157
  • Apollo Asparagus
  • Prussian asparagus

Description And Pictures

Green Asparagus

Also referred to as Standard Asparagus, Green asparagus spears are green in color with tightly closed tips. They are slender and have a purplish tinge at the tip. The flesh is dense, pale green, and crunchy with a slightly woody, fibrous consistency. A mature green asparagus can reach up to 22 centimeters in length.

White Asparagus

White asparagus spears are thicker with smooth stalks. They are more tender than green asparagus. They have a creamy-white color and closed, compact tips. They can reach lengths of 20 to 25 centimeters. Its flesh is ivory white with a watery and crunchy taste. It is usually in season during the spring months, from April to June in the Northern Hemisphere.

Purple Asparagus

Purple asparagus is available year-round, with a peak season in the spring through early summer. The stem’s surface is smooth and firm. It usually in shades of violet (deep purple or light lavender) in color. The pointed leaves on the furface are variegated with shades of pale red, purple, and purple-green.

The stems of this asparagus can grow to be thick or thin, depending on cultivation. It is usually harvested when it reaches 15 to 20 centimeters in length. The flesh is green, dense and snappy with a tender, succulent crunch.

Mary Washington

Mary Washington is a heirloom variety that has been cultivated in United States for many years. It was developed in 1919 by the breeding efforts of J. V. C. Gow, who named it after his mother, Mary Washington.

It produces medium to large-sized spears that are green in color. The spears have tight tips. It is usually harvested once the spears reach about 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) in height. Underneath the surface, it has firm, succulent, snappy flesh with a crisp nature, softening once heated.

Jersey Series

The Jersey Series refers to a group of hybrid asparagus varieties developed by breeding programs, particularly those from Rutgers University in New Jersey, United States. These hybrid cultivars, were bred to be meaty and disease-resistant. They are particularly resistant to fusarium, a type of fungus.

Some popular varieties in the Jersey Series include Jersey Giant, Jersey Knight, Jersey King, and Jersey Supreme. They are known for their uniformity, productivity and excellent flavor. Usually, harvested once the spears reach heights of 6-8 inches (15-20 cm).

Pencil Thin Asparagus

Pencil thin asparagus spears are extremely slender, resembling the diameter of a pencil or even thinner. They are much thinner than standard-sized asparagus spears, with diameters of about 1/8 to 1/4 inch (3 to 6 mm). Their stems are pistachio green capped with purple- green cruciferous tree-shaped tips.

They are particularly cultivated and harvested when they are young and slender, usually measuring no more than 1/4 inch (6 mm) in diameter. Its flesh is has a tender and delicate texture with mild and somehow sweet flavor.

Precoce D’Argenteuil

Precoce D’Argenteuil is Heirloom Asparagus variety developed from an 18th century asparagus variety known as Purple Dutch at the town of Argenteuil, located near Paris, France. It has been cultivated in the France for centuries and is considered a gourmet delicacy.

The name “Precoce” in French means “early”. This variety generally produces spears earlier in the season compared to many other varieties. It produces medium-sized spears with a purple-tinged tip. The spears are tender and flavorful. Their taste can be described as sweet, nutty and delicate.

Atlas asparagus

Atlas asparagus is a hybrid variety. Unlike other heirloom varieties, Atlas produces a prolific yield of spears every growing season and resilience to Fusarium wilt. Also its spears are slightly larger than those of other asparagus varieties. The spears are described as dark green with some purple coloration on the bud scales. This variety has a sweet taste with subtle earthy undertones.

Viking KB3 Asparagus

Viking KB3 is a hybrid variety of green asparagus. It is characterized by its green spears with purple tips, which are tender and flavorful when cooked. The spears can grow up to 8 inches in length and are usually ready for harvest in the second year after planting. Viking KB3 is a hardy plant. It can tolerate colder temperatures and is resistant to common diseases such as fusarium and rust. It is also a long-lived variety. It can produce spears for up to 20 years or more with proper care. Usually harvested when they reach 6 to 8 inches in length.

UC 157 Asparagus

UC 157 was Developed by Frank Takatori and Frank Southers at the University of California at Riverside in 1978. The spears are thick, straight, and vibrant green in color. I is characterized by excellent taste, tender texture and high yields.

Apollo Asparagus

Apollo asparagus produces average-sized spears that are uniform in shape and color. The spears are usually green with some purple tinge at the tips. They are straight and firm. Yield data from California show a 25% to 50% yield increase over UC157.

Prussian Asparagus

Prussian asparagus also referred to as Korenaar Asparagus or Bath asparagus or spiked star of Bethlehem are the young shoots of the Ornithogalum pyrenaicum plant, harvested early in the season before the plant flowers. Although it resembles asparagus (Asparagus oficinalis), it is not actually closely related to it. The head of the Prussian asparagus looks similar to an ear of wheat, with the buds of many flowers at the tip. It is usually available in the spring. Prussian asparagus is native to northern and western Europe. It grows in open forests and on the sides of roads in countries including France, the Netherlands, and England.

Leave a Comment