Asparagus cochinchinensis (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Asparagus cochinchinensis (Loureiro) Merrill

Family: Liliaceae


Melanthium cochinchinense Loureiro, Asparagus lucidus Lindley.

Vernacular names

  • Cambodia: tumpèang
  • Vietnam: thiên môn dông, tút thiên nam, bách bộ.


The Philippines (northern Luzon), Taiwan, Japan, Korea, southern China, Indo-China.


The tubers are eaten candied. They are also used medicinally against cough, sore throat and to allay thirst in wasting diseases.


Dioecious herb with perennial rhizome and roots with distant, elongated fleshy tubers. Stem glabrous but with spines up to 0.5 cm long, erect, climbing or procumbent, with numerous spineless branches 10-30 cm long. True leaves reduced to small scales; in the axils of scale leaves on branches and stem tips 1-3 leaf-like branchlets (cladodes) are present, usually flat or less often 3-angled, linear-arcuate, 5-15(-40) mm × 0.5-1.5 mm. Flowers functionally unisexual, solitary or 2-3 together in the axil of scale leaves with cladodes; perianth segments 6, yellow-green to white, 2-3.5 mm long; pedicel articulated near or above the middle, 2-6 mm long; male flowers with 6 stamens, shorter than perianth, and rudimentary pistil; female flowers with obovoid ovary, 1-2 mm long, style with 3 stigmatic ridges and rudimentary stamens. Fruit a globose berry, 4-7 mm in diameter, green when ripe, with 1-4 seeds. A. cochinchinensis is usually found in arid areas, up to 1200 m altitude, on exposed slopes or in thickets, sometimes on coral or limestone substrates. It is closely related to and difficult to distinguish from A. racemosus Willdenow.

Selected sources

13, 22, 49, 51.


L.E. Groen, J.S. Siemonsma & P.C.M. Jansen