Asparagus capensis is a dense, spiny shrub with many branched, woody stems growing occasionally to a height of 1 metre. Small needle-like leaves occur in whorls along the stems. Several Asparagus species are known as katdoring (cat thorn) in Afrikaans, referring to the painful experience its thorns may inflict.
This katdoring grows from Namibia to the Cape Peninsula and the Eastern Cape in coastal and varying inland conditions. The flowers are small, creamy white and aromatic, appearing from autumn to spring.
This plant is said to be one of Jan van Riebeeck’s first local vegetables at the Cape’s East India Company garden. Some people still harvest young shoots from this and other indigenous Asparagus species as food similar to the common edible species, Asparagus officinalis (Shearing and Van Heerden, 2008; Van Wyk and Gericke, 2000).