Did You Know That There Are Male And Female Asparagus? Here's The Difference

We know asparagus as the fresh, crunchy ingredient that you can throw into chopped salads or cheesy galettes, but you may not know the more personal qualities of this spring veggie. It turns out that asparagus can identify as male or female, but you might not be able to tell which is which at first glance. Both types have spears, can grow up to seven feet tall, and can make tiny flower buds.

So, why do asparagus separate into different genders? These veggies fall into a category of plants known as dioecious, which means the male and female parts of their flowers lie in entirely different plants. In general, female flowers absorb pollen, while male ones produce it. A multitude of plants (including corn and squash) are known as monoecious, meaning they possess flowers of both types. Some — like kiwi, cannabis, and our aforementioned crunchy veggie — segregate into two versions. If you look closely, you'll be able to see that males have orange stamens in their flowers, while females possess white pistils. This distinction is one reason why bees are so important; they carry pollen between the male and female plants so that they can reproduce.

Male asparagus typically tastes the best

Most of us aren't trying to get asparagus plants to reproduce – we're just trying to choose the freshest asparagus possible to make a tasty broad bean risotto or leek and pancetta pasta. So, what do we need to know before we go to the grocery store or farmers market? In general, male asparagus will be thicker with bigger spears, a sweeter flavor, and a softer texture. This occurs because females have to use up a lot of their energy making seeds, so males are often considered the preferred type to eat. But, keep in mind that if you buy an all-male bunch, you may pay more for the quality that you're getting.

If you're growing your own asparagus at home, you can look at the flowers and berries to determine the sex of your plants, the biggest indicator at the grocery store is the thickness of the stalks. If you can find the name of the specific bunch you're buying, Guelph Millennium, Jersey Giants, Jersey Kings, and Jersey Knights are examples of male options. What's most important is to check your veggies for a stiff texture and closed spears before purchasing them at the grocery store – and once you have yours picked out, follow our advice for the first thing you should do with a fresh bunch of asparagus.