Evaluation of Morphological Characteristics of Iranian Edible Wild Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis L.)



Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis L.) is an ancient vegetable originated from Europe, Asia and Africa. The germplasm of A. officinalis in Iran is limited, with only some individual plants have been found in Taleghan Mountains. In order to evaluate the morphological characteristics of this valuable vegetable, 58 individual plants from Taleghan population were studied and compared with Mary Washington cultivar. Results showed that the means obtained from some evaluated traits as plant height, number of first rate branches, main stem diameter, length of first rate branches and number of scales under the first panicle branches were 133.81 cm, 38.38, 5.3 mm, 39.6 cm and 14.78 respectively. The evaluated genotypes were composed of 68.97% male and 31.03% female. The means of spear length (6.3%), spear diameter (30.4%) and fresh weight of spears (52.2%) in wild asparagus genotypes were less than those in Mary Washington cultivar. In the studied plants, flowers appeared from early May to early June with green fruits being formed about early July. The number of seeds per red mature berry fruit, collected around early September, varied from 4 to 6 among the evaluated plants. The simple correlation coefficient among the measured characteristics showed that the spear diameter with the length of spear scales had the highest positive correlation at a 99% level. In factor analysis, the characteristics were divided into four main factors, the two first of which verified 44.74% of the total variance and included 9 characteristics. Also, the evaluated genotypes were divided into five groups in cluster analysis with the means of all evaluated characteristics of the third group, completely consisting of male genotypes, higher than those of the total means. Results finally showed that the wild asparagus genotypes possessed a relatively high diversity, so that this local could be considered as a natural origin of A. officinalis and the only genetic resource of this valuable plant which should be dearly preserved.