Asparagus is the Latin name of the lace fern, which in turn comes from the Greek sparassein, ‘rip’. The specific setaceus, from Latin, refers to the fine appearance, like a horsehair, of their leaves.
It is a typically ornamental and shade plant native to South Africa, related to the common asparagus (Asparagus officinalis), this species has been cultivated as a vegetable for eating their young shoots, also used as a medicinal plant. Several species of wild asparagus, green asparagus in particular, are collected in the Mediterranean region for the same purpose. It is also grown in pots of the Real Alcázar, the asparagus densiflorus.
Francisco Hernández (1517-1587), scholar, humanist and physician of King Philip II, recorded a thin asparagus in Mexico for its astringent properties. Hernandez led a major expedition to America designed to investigate the medicinal properties of plants of the New World. He had to write a list of plants for medicinal use and had to report on how to cultivate them. In turn, Hernandez had to send the Iberian Peninsula those novel plants that did not exist there, besides writing a natural history of the territory. This expedition, born of the will of Philip II to know and exploit the resources of their domains, can be considered as the first one, with a scientific goal that was made in America, prologue to that in the eighteenth century financed by the Bourbon monarchs, in line with the Enlightenment spirit.