Basket asparagus fern

Native to Africa, basket asparagus fern has long, arching, prickly stems. One of Australia's most significant garden escapees, it becomes dominant ground cover and displaces native plants, even in undisturbed systems. Basket asparagus fern is also known as 'ground asparagus' or just 'asparagus fern'.

Basket asparagus fern is a restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Asparagus aethiopicus cv. Sprengeri

Other names

Ground asparagus, asparagus fern

Description

  • Fern with long, arching, prickly stems up to 2m long.
  • Leaves are light green, slender.
  • Flowers are small, creamy, clustered.
  • Fruits are up to 8mm in diameter.
  • Fruits ripen to bright red containing a single, black, round seed.
  • Starch-bearing tubers are present, but do not regrow or reproduce.

Habitat

  • Prefers sand dunes, shallow-soiled headlands and rainforest understorey.

Distribution in Queensland

  • Occurs along Queensland coast and in hinterland.

Life cycle

  • Germinates most of the year if moisture present.
  • Usually flowers October-February.

Impacts

Environmental

  • Becomes dominant ground cover, displacing native plants, even in undisturbed systems.

How it is spread

  • Spread by fruit-eating birds.

Control

Physical control

  • Remove berries, seeds and entire crown of underground stem with sharp knife to prevent regrowth.
  • Follow up to control seedling germination and regrowth from missed tubers.

Herbicide control

  • Herbicide control is effective.
  • Use spot spray and cut-stump methods.

See the Asparagus fern fact sheet (PDF, 1.5MB) for herbicide control and application rates.

Biological control

  • No known biological control agent.

Legal requirements

  • Basket asparagus fern is a restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.
  • It must not be given away, sold, or released into the environment without a permit.
  • The Act requires everyone to take all reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risks associated with invasive plants and animals under their control. This is called a general biosecurity obligation (GBO).
  • At a local level, each local government must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants and animals in its area. This plan may include actions to be taken on certain species. Some of these actions may be required under local laws. Contact your local government for more information.

More information