Wild asparagus season is upon on in South Dakota. Little shoots are springing up along fence lines, roadside ditches under cottonwoods and along the banks of the Belle Fourche River. Asparagus is common in western South Dakota. The tender stalks are nutritious and often considered a delicacy.

To locate hunting grounds for wild asparagus search for dried stalks of the tall remnants of last year’s stalks. At the base new stalks are likely to be sprouting. Searching for the new stalks and taking a bundle home is a satisfying and rewarding hunting adventure. Always cut the stalks with a knife as close to the base as possible rather than snapping them off. In this way, the stalks will continue to grow and produce stalks all season.

The finished walking path recently completed along the Belle Fourche riverfront at the Beautiful Fork is especially timely for connoisseurs of wild asparagus. My friend, Nancy Wesseling and I share an annual asparagus hunting ritual. Sometimes a poem says it all. I wrote this last year:

Stalking Wild Stalks at the Center of the Nation

At the very center of the nation.
in early summer
Nancy and I
graze the river path
Beside the Beautiful Fork
seeking sweet shoots of
wild asparagus.

Asparagus is elusive,
We search carefully
Watch closely
part the brom grass, the thistle
A serious occupation.

Stalking stalks
With a plastic knife

I snap the stalk, make a jagged break
Nancy is more methodical.
the plastic knife must slice the stalk
cleanly level with the earth.
Nancy’s way is better,
I agree, shrug but go back to my old ways.
Larry will have fresh asparagus for supper either way

Treasured stalks and stalkers
We carry a bundle home

Stalkers of stalks
With a plastic knife
Richer, nourished, and loved.