New Perspectives on Structural and Pharmacological Studies on Asparagus adscendens: A Review


Ram Babu Pareek1*, T. J. Vidyapati2

1Department of Education in Science and Mathematics, Regional Institute of Education,

Capt. D.P. Chaudhary Marg- Ajmer-305004 India.

2Department of Education in Science and Mathematics, Regional Institute of Education Mysore India

*Corresponding Author E-mail:



Asparagus adscendens Roxb. (Asparagaceae) is a suberect prickly shrub, with white tuberous roots. It is an important medicinal plant and is commonly known as Ujli Musli, Hazamuli, Satavar, Satmuli, Safed Musli in Hindi and Safed Musli in Marathi. The plant which is used as a vegetable has white tubers which are hairy and mucilaginous and swell up with water. It has been reported to possess cooling and demulcent properties and is known to control the symptoms of AIDS. The ayurvedic practitioners have successfully used the roots of the plant for treatment of nervous disorder, inflammation and certain infectious diseases. The recent research reports indicate that the alcoholic and aqueous extracts of the roots of the plant showed some beneficial effects in some clinical conditions and in experimentally induced diseases like cancer. The present article attempts to review the phytochemical and pharmacological studies on the various parts of the A. adscendens especially on the root extracts.


KEYWORDS: Asparagaceae; Asparagus adscedens; Saponins, Asparanin C.





Many important medicines have been isolated from natural sources since times immemorial and Traditional Medicine (TM) has a very great potential to treat variety of chronic and non-communicable diseases that afflict mankind. The Traditional medicine is well integrated into health care system in India and in many other countries and there are ample instances where the Ayurvedic system of medicine flourished as an alternative to allopathy for healthcare[1].



Although there is a mention of the use of plants in medicine in ancient scriptures like the Rigveda , the actual details pertaining to the properties of plants and their medicinal uses can be found in Ayurveda (which when literally translated means science of life)[2]. Modern taxonomists placed the genus Asparagus in the family of Asparagaceae and it belongs to the order Asparagales[3,4]. The genus asparagus consists of about 300 species spread all over the world and about 20 species of them are known to occur in India[5]. The plant’s name originated from the English word asparagus. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the plant was referred to as sperage, sparage, or sperach and this term appears to have originated from the Medieval Latin term sparagus.  It is believed that this term might have derived from the Greek term aspharagos or asparagos. There is school of thought who believes that Greek term originated from the Persian asparag, meaning "sprout" or "shoot." The original Latin name has now supplanted the English word. Asparagus is also commonly known as "Sparrows Guts," etymologically distinct from the earlier term "sparrow grass". Asparagus adscedens Roxb. (Asparagaceae) is a suberect prickly shrub, with white tuberous roots. It is commonly known as shweta musali or satavar bhed, Dholi Musali in Bombay and Gujarat, Ujli Musli, Hazamuli, Satavar, Satmuli, Safed Musli in Hindi and Safed Musli in Marathi[6,7]. It is used as a vegetable and the white tubers are hairy and mucilaginous and they swell up in water. They have cooling and demulcent properties. These properties are similar to the ones noticed in the case of ‘Salep misri’ (Orchis mascula Linn.)[8]. A perusal of ancient classical Ayurvedic literature reveals that Asparagus adscedens has several therapeutic properties. The leaves are used as an expectorant and the stem is used as an aphrodisiac[9-11]. The roots are used in dyspepsia, anaemia as a  tonic, in premature ejaculation,  as a galactagogue, as an antidote to snake and scorpion bite, in diarrhea, dysentery, antioxidant, general debility, demulcent[12-20] and also to control the symptoms of AIDS, scopolamine induced amnesia[21,22,23].


Scientific Classification:

Asparagus adscendens belongs to the Plantae Kingdom and the Clade is Angiosperms. It is a monocot belonging to the order Asparagales and family Asparagaceae and within this it is from the sub family of Asparagoideae. As the botanical name suggests, it belongs to the genus Asparagus and the species is A. adscendens. The plant is a source of nutritious starch which is low in calories and in sodium quantity. The processed shoots of this plant are used in a variety of ways all over the world and especially as an appetizer. It is also used as vegetable and the roots are reported to possess cooling and demulcent properties. 


Characteristics of A. adscedens:

Asparagus adscendens is valued worldwide for its enormous potential in traditional Medicine System. It has an excessive branching, stem tall, stout, sub erect, tall plant with densely crowded whitish cladophylls in dense tufts of 6-20, 1.3-5cm long, slender, filiform, terete, soft, sub-erect and curved.  



Asparagus adscendens is an important medicinal plant which is widely distributed in the plains and sub-mountainous regions of Punjab, foothill regions of Pakistan and Kashmir, Afghanistan and in the Himalayas up to an altitude of 5,300ft [24]. It occurs naturally in the forests of western Himalayas and in the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. It was initially grown in thick forests in natural form, and is a customary medicinal plant. Some parts of the plant are given in Figure 1.


Figure: 1(A) Asparagus adscendens aerial part of the Plant


(B) Asparagus adscendens roots


(C) Close-up of Asparagus adscendens roots


Pharmacognostic Studies:

The root is long, thick and cylindrical with significantly tapering ends. Older roots are deep to almost dark brown whereas the younger ones are of somewhat lighter color. Scares and protuberances of the lateral rootlets are seen all over the external surface which also shows longitudinal wrinkles. Texture is hard and the root breaks with uneven fibrous fracture when dried. Irregular longitudinal furrows develop when the root is peeled and dried and the roots are odorless and possess a sweetish taste[25-27]. Microscopically a transverse section from the upper level of the root shows an outer cortex with characteristics similar to those found in A. racemosus [28]. The inner cortex is made up of axillary elongated parenchyma, some of which contain raphide crystals. Scattered fibers and well-developed sheath of stone cells surroundings the endodermis, is present at all levels of the roots. The endodermis beneath the sheath shows thickened radial and inner tangential walls. In a few root samples, especially from plants growing in sheltered places, the cortical sclerenchymatous fibers are confined to either peripheral region or may be absent. The tracheids have the usual thin pointed tapering ends. The late metaxylem elements generally have porous end plats but the early metaxylem elements often show typical scalariform perforations on the end plats. Pith is completely or partially lignified[29].      



The active compounds present in Asparagus adscendens are well known for their multiple health benefits. The powdered dried roots exhibit galactogogic properties and it was found to be effective in treating diarrhea, dysentery and general debility[30]. The following phytochemicals mainly saponins are isolated from different parts of Asparagus adscendens[31].

a)       β Sitosterol, Sarsasapogenin, diosgenin[32]

b)       Sitosterol β–D-glucoside, Spirostanol glycoside (Asparanin A and B), furostanol glycoside (asparoside A and B) from methanolic extract of Fruits [33].

c)       Spirostanol glycoside (Asparanin C and D), furostanol glycoside (asparoside C and D) from methanolic extract of roots [34].

d)       Oligofurostanosides Adscendosides A and B, spirostanosides Adscendins A and B from leaves [35].

e)       3- β-O-[β-D-2-tetracosylxyopyranosyl]-stigmasterol and 3-β-O[β-D-glucopyranosyl (1→2) α-L-arabinopyranosyl] stigmasterol from roots[36]

f)        Methyl palmitate, tetracosyl tetracosanoate, palmitic acid and stearic acid[37].  

g)       25S-5β-spirostan-3β-yl-O-[O-β-D-arabinopyranosyl (1→4) - β-D-glucopyranoside[38]. Chemical strictures are given in Figure 2.


Antifertility activity:

The powdered seeds mixed with an equal amount of gum acacia when administered orally once a day to albino rats at a dosage of 1 to 10 (175mg/kg) during post mating period, it was found to have 28% abortifacient             activity [39]


Antifilarial activity:

The antifilarial activity of root against Setaria cervi   in in-vitro studies showed that the aqueous as well as the alcoholic extracts inhibited the spontaneous motility of whole worm and the nerve/ muscle. The LC50 and LC90 was 8 and 16μg/mL for aqueous, 3 and 12μg/mL for alcoholic extracts, respectively [40]


General Pharmacology:

In preliminary biological screening, the ethanolic extract of the plant (50%) was found to be devoid of antifertility, hypoglycemic, anticancer and diuretic activities but it had effect on CVS and CNS in mice [41- 43].


Antimicrobial activity:

The steroidal saponins isolated from the roots showed antimicrobial activity against Bacillus anthracis and was moderately active against Streptococcus agalactiae, Staphylococcus aureus, Proteus vulgaris, Aspergillus niger and A. flavus. Slight activity was observed against pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella Richmond, Salm newport, Corynebacterium pyogeneus, Haemophilus influenza and Pasteurella sp. However, it exhibited no activity against Escherichia coli, klebsiella pneumonia, bacillus subtilis, Salmonella pullorum, Salm stanely, Penicillium digitatum, Aspergillus fumigatus, Rhizopus stolonifer and Fusarium sp[44, 45]. The aqueous, ethanolic and hexane extracts of the roots were devoid of in vitro antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes, Strept viridans, Diplococcus pnemoniae, Corynebacterium diphtheriae, Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi, Salm paratyphi A and B, Shigella flexneri, Sh sonnei and antifungal activity against Candida albicans, C. tropicalis, Piedraia hortae, Trichosporon cutaneum, Microsporum canis, M. gypseum, M. nanum, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, T. rubrum and Phialophora jeanselmei, madurella mycetomy, Cryptococcus neoformans and Histoplasma capsulatum. The 50% ethanolic extract of the plant however, was devoid of antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus. Salmonella typhi, Escherichia coli and Agrobacterium tumefaciens and was also devoid of antifungal activity against candida albicans, Cryptococcus neoformanas, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, Microsporum canis and Aspergillus niger [46].


Anthelmintic activity:

The steroidal saponins Asparanin A and B revealed nematicidal activity affecting larval mobility of Meloodogyne incognita[47].


Chemopreventive Potential:

Studies have been made on the effectiveness of the roots of Asparagus adscendens in  prevention of chemically induced cancer of skin and forestomach in mice and the results showed that at test doses of 2,4 and 6% (w/v),  the incidence of tumor at those sites is significantly reduced.[48].



Studies conducted on different parts of Asparagus adscendens led to isolation and identification of several active principles and this has enabled pharmaceutical industries to develop effective drugs from this plant for the treatment of various diseases.  More detailed and systematic studies with regard to the identification, cataloguing and documentation of various medicinal plants is very much necessary for further promotion of traditional knowledge of medicinal plants.



The authors are thankful to Principal, Regional Institute of Education (NCERT), Ajmer and Dr. Raghu Chita, Assistant Professor in Chemistry, Central University of Rajasthan for providing necessary library facilities. The present research work has not received funding from any agency including the government.


(i) Asparanin A R1 = H    

(ii) Asparanin B R1 = α-L-Rha (Pyr) 


(iii)  Asparanin C R1=H, R2= α-L-Ara (Pyr) R3 = α-L-Rha (Pyr)

(iv) Asparanin D R1=β-D-Glu (Pyr), R2= α-L-Ara (Pyr) R3 = α-L-Rha (Pyr)


(v) Asparoside A R1 =Methyl, R2 = α-L-Rha (Pyr)          

(vi) Asparoside B R1 = H, R2 = α-L-Rha (Pyr)   


(vii)Asparoside C R=Methyl, R1= β-D-Glu (Pyr), R2= α-L-Ara (Pyr) R3 = α-L-Rha (Pyr)

(viii) Asparoside D R= H, R1=β-D-Glu (Pyr), R2= α-L-Ara (Pyr) R3 = α-L-Rha (Pyr)



(ix) Adscendosides A R1 =H, R2 = α-L-Rha (Pyr)

(x) Adscendosides B R1 =R2 = α-L-Rha (Pyr)


 (xi) Adscendins A R=Me, R1= R2= α-L-Rha (Pyr)

(xii) Adscendins B R=H, R1= R2= α-L-Rha (Pyr)


(xiii) 3-β-O-[β-D-2-tetracosylxylpyranosyl]-stigmasterol

R= C23H47CO

(xiv) Stigmasterol-β-D-xylopyranoside R=H


(xv) 3-β-O-[β-D-Glucopyranosyl (1→2)-α-L-arabinopyranosyl]-stigmasterol


R1= β-D-arabinopyranosyl

(xvi) 25S-5β-spirostanol-3β-yl-O-[O-β-D-arabinopyranosyl (1→4)]-β-D-glucopyranoside



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Received on 12.05.2017          Modified on 11.06.2017

Accepted on 20.07.2017       ©A&V Publications All right reserved

Res.  J. Pharmacognosy and Phytochem. 2017; 9(3): 189-194.

DOI: 10.5958/0975-4385.2017.00035.8