Crop: Asparagus officinalis L. (Asparagus )

J. A. Dybdahl 1877, lecturer in horticulture at the Royal Agricultural University in Copenhagen tested existing asparagus ‘Connover’s Colossal’, ‘Asparagus d’Argenteuil’ and some other varieties, but could not observe difference in any traits. He cited Thompson, London, who tested violet-, white-, green-headed asparagus and ‘Giant Asparagus’ and found them similar. Goeschke, Leipzig, considered all the old asparagus forms, that were released as varieties named after a town or region known for asparagus cultivation like Darmstädter Giant, Erfurter-, English- or Dutch. ‘Giant Asparagus’, just were local variants. Giant Asparagus seems to be synonymous with common asparagus.

Danish Giant Asparagus may be an adapted seed multiplied ‘variety’ of the asparagus collected and cultivated at the manor houses in the 1600s.  This domestication may have been repeated in different locations. However, in some trials it seemed to perform better than foreign material and in others there were no difference.

Danish Giant Asparagus is an old landrace, which through a more or less deliberate selection is developed for Danish growing condition. Through the years many foreign varieties were tested without big success, probably they were adapted to a warmer climate (Jørgensen, 1969).

Danish Giant Asparagus is both suitable for bleaching and as a green vegetable.

The Danish Giant Asparagus was regarded extinct, except for an accession in the Vavilov Institute. Then one day in 2007 it was discovered by incidence and was collected.

Cultivation System: ND.

Geographical Information

Country: Denmark

Danish asparagus cultivation has traditional regions where they are grown: Samsø, Fyn, Helnæs, Lammefjorden, around Copenhagen including Amager. Danish Giant Asparagus accession was collected in Fyn.

Farmer(s) description:

Presently, the farmers are seed savers growing the landrace for conservation and self supply. It is grown in small populations in approximately eight gardens at different locations in Denmark.

Propagation system: Seed, cross-pollination

Multiplication procedures and consequences on landrace diversity:

The Danish Giant is maintained by members of 5 – 6 Danish Seed Savers, distributed over the country. They have at least 40 plants each aiming at 20 seed producing plants per sub-population.  The fields were established from 2013 to 2017. Harvested seeds from four seed savers were bulked and send to the Genebank in 2017, and second year seeds were distributed to members in the public 2018.

Management plan existence:

The landrace management relies completely on farming activities in the area.

Added Values

Market - existing and novel:

There is a good market for asparagus product, both to private persons as to restaurants. We have not gone out to the broad public yet.

Others (e.g. commercial/geographical brands or special traits):

It has a good strong taste, if this is an added value to you. It offers conservation and genuine story telling.

There is no official program form on-farm conservation of heritage- or conservation varieties in Denmark. The maintenance of this landrace is the responsibility of the Danish Seed savers, alone.

Seeds have been donated to the Nordic genetic Resources center and can be accessed from there, accessions number NGB20405

Case study prepared by Danish Seed Savers (DSS), Denmark.

Most of updates have been communicated by Gert Poulsen (DSS).

  • Dybdahl, J.A. (1877) Kjøkkenhaveplanterne, gjemmengaaede med Hensyn til deres Oprindelse, Betydning, Varieteter, vigtigste Dyrkningsmåder og de for dem skadelige Dyr og Planter. G.E.C. Gad, Kjøbenhavn.
  • Jørgensen M.B. (1969) Asparges. In Dyrkning af grønsager og bær, ed. M. Blangstrup Jørgensen. Statens Væksthusforsøg, Landbohøjskolen, Gartnerskolerne og Dansk Erhvervsgartnerforening