Native to temperate regions of Eurasia, asparagus has been known since antiquity. For the Greeks, this vegetable was associated with Aphrodite, goddess of love and sold for its aphrodisiac properties. Somewhat neglected in the Middle Ages, the vegetable plant was brought to Italy by Catherine de Medici for her wedding to Henry II. It was considered refined in the nineteenth century as it was consumed only by the wealthy. Asparagus is an integral part of medicinal plants, used in healing for things such as bee stings, toothaches and heart disease. Today, there are about four asparagus varieties existing in France, twelve in all of Europe, and up to 250 000 tons are grown each year. The main producing countries are China, Peru, the United States, Mexico and Spain.