Asparagus Fern

(Also known as Ground Asparagus)

Asparagus aethiopicus (Syn Protasparagus aethiopicus)

Family: Asparagaceae

Type of weed:

Noxious Weed Class 3. (See more noxious weeds).

Flowering Months: , , , , ,

Description

A ground cover with long arching prickly stems up to 2 m long, commonly  grown as an ornamental plant.

Starch-bearing tubers are present, but do not regrow or reproduce.

It has light green slender leaves.

Clusters of small, creamy flowers appear spring to summer.

Fruits are up to 8 mm in diameter and ripen in September and October to bright red, each containing a single, black, round seed.

Don’t confuse with…

This plant can be confused with two related weeds:

  • Climbing Asparagus Fern (Asparagus plumosus)
  • Bridal Veil Creeper (Asparagus asparagoides)

Dispersal

Asparagus Fern spreads by underground rhizomes (in dumped garden waste) and through seed dispersal by birds.

Impact on bushland

Plants spread over native species creating thick areas of asparagus fern.

Distribution

, . Mainly in the Lower Mountains.

Alternative planting

Native plants

Alternative plantings for spiky bird habitat include:

  • Lomandra longifolia

Native peaflowers include:

  • Daviesia ulicifolia
  • Oxylobium ilicifolium

Suitable native groundcovers include:

  • Dianella caerulea
  • Native sarsaparilla (Hardenbergia violacea)
  • Creeping Boobialla (Myoporum parvifolium)
  • Kennedia spp

Council provides a tool, on its Mountain Landscapes website, to help you choose native alternative plantings. Choose your village, soil, vegetation community and the purpose of your planting, and the tool will give you suggestions.

There are native nurseries in several Blue Mountains villages, including Glenbrook, Lawson and Katoomba. Please also ask at your favourite local nursery.

Control

  • Crown the fibrous roots of the plant making sure to remove all of the flattened horny crown at the top of the root system (the rhizome that forms the base of the ‘above ground’ plant); the water tubers can be left in the ground as they won’t regrow neither will the small fibrous roots,  or
  • Spray with herbicide only if it is possible to avoid contact with desirable plants or soil near tree root zones.

Note: Spraying climbers is only effective in limited situations, where there is dense foliage and it is not too high; otherwise most of the spray will disperse and miss the target weed.

Do not damage native vegetation by pulling vines from trees, it is best to let the vines die and break down slowly.

Because the berries are bird spread, it is best treat plants before they fruit.  Bag any fruit and dispose of in a hot compost to kill the seeds.

For more info

For key points on these techniques:

Noxious Weed Class 3

Regionally Controlled Weeds

Characteristics: Class 3 noxious weeds are plants that pose a serious threat to primary production or the environment of an area to which the order applies, are not widely distributed in the area and are likely to spread in the area or to another area.

Control objective: Reduce the area and the impact of those plants in parts of NSW.

Control action: The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed.

NSW Noxious Weeds Act 1993

Refer to the NSW Department of Primary Industry’s Noxious and Environmental Weed Control Handbook.