Asparagus racemosus (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Asparagus racemosus Willdenow

Family: Liliaceae


Asparagus dubius Decaisne, Asparagopsis javanica Kunth, A. schoberioides Kunth.

Vernacular names

  • Indonesia: sangga langit (Java), niesie saub (Timor), skikirie (Tanimbar)
  • Cambodia: më:m sa:m sö'b
  • Thailand: chuangkhrua (northern), samsip (central), phaknam (eastern).


Widespread in Africa and through southern Asia into China, Indo-China and Malesia to northern Australia. In Malesia, it occurs in Peninsular Malaysia and Indonesia (Java and from Lombok to Tanimbar).


The tuberous roots are eaten candied in Indonesia ("manisan bek bun"). In India, a similar conserve is used medicinally against impotence and as a stimulant, restorative, demulcent, diuretic and anti-dysenteric. A lactogenic preparation is used to stimulate milk flow in cows. A. racemosus is sometimes planted as an ornamental.


Herb with perennial rhizome and roots bearing distant, elongated fleshy tubers. Stem glabrous but with spines up to 1 cm long, usually climbing, 3-6 m long, with numerous solitary branches that branch again into final segments 5-10 cm long. True leaves reduced to small scales; the axil of scale leaves on branches and stem tips usually contain 2-3 leaf-like branchlets (cladodes) that are 3-angled, linear-crenate, 7-25(-40) mm × 0.5-1 mm. Flowers bisexual, fragrant, solitary or in pairs in the axil of scale leaves on branches usually lacking cladodes; perianth segments 6, white with a green band, 2-4 mm long; pedicel articulated near the middle, 3-5 mm long; stamens 6, up to as long as perianth; ovary obovoid, style 0.5 mm long with 3 stigmatic ridges or 3-lobed. Fruit a globose berry, 4-6 mm in diameter, red when ripe, with 1-3 seeds. A. racemosus is a distinctly drought-tolerant plant, bound to seasonal climates, from sea-level up to 1150 m altitude, often in coastal areas in sunny thickets and on dunes. It is closely related to and difficult to distinguish from A. cochinchinensis (Loureiro) Merrill.

Selected sources

3, 13, 22, 32, 49, 57, 79, 81, 95.


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