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Asparagus Fern, Lace Fern

Recommendations for Maintaining Postharvest Quality

asparagus fern033
Michael S. Reid

Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis

Maturity & Quality


Asparagus spp. Asparagus fern (A. setaceus and other species in the genus Asparagus) are probably better known in the floral trade as A. plumosus or plumosus fern, and provide an interesting foliage and filler for arrangements. These species are not true ferns but are members of the lily family, in the same genus as edible asparagus. Asparagus densiflorus "Sprengeri" group is another common filler foliage.

Quality Indices

As with other foliage, asparagus fern should be harvested when the fronds are fully mature, immature tips are very likely to wilt after harvest. Make sure that the fronds are mature, uniformly green, there are no yellow leaves, and that leaves do not fall from the fronds when they are shaken.

Grading and Bunching

There are no formal grade standards for asparagus fern, but fronds should be intact, of uniform length, maturity, and color. Fronds are frequently bunched in groups of 20, and not normally placed in sleeves.

Ethylene Sensitivity

Exposure to ethylene will cause leaf fall in some species of asparagus fern, and therefore pretreatment with 1-MCP or STS is beneficial.


Because ethylene exposure will cause accelerated leaf fall, treatment with 1-MCP or STS is recommended.

Storage Conditions

Store asparagus ferns at 0-1°C, wrapped in polyethylene to reduce drying out during storage. The fern should be cooled before being wrapped in polythene.


Because of their relatively low value, asparagus and other ferns are packed densely in boxes, usually horizontal boxes that are filled as full as possible. This places an additional emphasis on the importance of pre-cooling, but no paper or plastic is used, which permits reasonably effective forced air-cooling.

Special Considerations

Asparagus fern suffers from premature leaf fall. Induced primarily by water stress, it can be a serious problem. To avoid yellowing and leaf fall, avoid prolonged storage. Certain preservative solutions aggravate premature leaf yellowing. However, preservative solution should be used in all arrangements containing this fern, as the other floral items in the arrangement will benefit.


October 2004

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The information in this fact sheet represents our best understanding of the current state of knowledge at the time of the latest update, and does not represent an exhaustive review of all research results. Links to any of these UC Postharvest Technology Center pages are permitted, but no endorsement of the linking site or products mentioned in the linking page is intended or implied by such a link.

How to Cite

Author(s) names. Initial publication or update date (located at the top). Title. Link to the specific Produce Fact Sheet webpage (Accessed date)

Example: Cantwell, M. and T. Suslow. 2002. Lettuce, Crisphead: Recommendations for Maintaining Postharvest Quality. (Accessed January 18, 2014).

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