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Stalking Wild Asparagus

Now's the time to hunt for bushes that lead to spring's asparagus crop.

As fall descends upon northern Illinois, leaf peepers are roaming the countryside, looking for the signs that will guide them back to a mouthwatering vegetable treat next year: wild asparagus.

Now is the time to be out on the prowl, looking for stands of the mature plants. Pay special attention to roadsides for wild asparagus. Now is the best time to find the delicious plant.

Wild asparagus grows from crowns, which are similar to a bulb root system. It emerges in the spring and continues to grow through midsummer. A whopping $3 a pound in stores for old, wilted stalks, many choose to hunt the wild variety along the roads.

After midsummer, the plant continues to grow into a tall, fern-like bush. This is how it re-seeds itself. In the spring, it is difficult to see thin, needle-like stalks while driving at even moderate speeds. The secret to finding secret plant locations is to hunt for it now, while the bush is tall and obvious.

The photos show different plants to look for. It is a medium green color with a flowing, feathery top. Some crowns will have several stalks growing out of them. That would make fall asparagus plants appear dense, like round bushes.

In other cases, crowns may only provide one or two stalks. In those instances, asparagus looks like a single fern leaf.

People who are serious about stalking wild asparagus should find the plants now. Make notes or take photographs as to the locations. Use the car's odometer to help track distance from a traffic light or stop sign. 

Come spring, the notes will be valuable for an exciting hunt with a delicious treasure.

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