New Mexico Wildflowers: Asparagus Family

(Asparagaceae)

 

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Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)

The asparagus you buy in a grocery store is a shoot. Left alone, the shoots turn into bushes whose parts are so thin and feathery, it's easy to walk right past them. In one picture, a friend is holding a branch that's dusted with cottonwood "cotton." Asparagus qualifies for this web site because in New Mexico, it has escaped into the wild.

 

Beargrass (Nolina)

Beargrass (or scahuista) is easily recognized from the leaves alone. While yucca-like in their arrangement, clumps of beargrass look shaggier than yucca plants. Beargrass leaves are narrow, just as narrowleaf yucca leaves are, but beargrass leaves are more flexible and end in curly fibers. One of the photos is a close-up of the end of a beargrass leaf.

 

When beargrass does flower, it puts up fluffy-looking clumps of small white or whitish flowers—again distinguishing it from a yucca plant.