Climbing asparagus fern

Native to southern Africa, climbing asparagus fern is a garden plant that causes serious environmental problems when it escapes into bushland. Climbing asparagus fern easily scrambles over other vegetation up to 12m into the canopy. In Queensland, it has naturalised in several coastal regions.

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

Scientific name

Asparagus africanus

Similar species

Description

  • Fast-growing plant with stems up to 12m long; can climb trees.
  • Leaves and stems are very fine and thorny.
  • Flowers are green-white, bell-shaped, 5-7mm wide.
  • Berries are green when young, ripening to orange, 5mm wide.
  • Roots appear swollen and thick, do not produce tubers.
  • Similar in appearance and impact to A. plumosus except A. africanus has orange berries while A. plumosus has black berries.
  • Without a host, can grow as scrambling low shrub.

Habitat

  • Prefers bushland and rainforests.

Distribution in Queensland

  • Naturalised in several coastal regions of Queensland.

Life cycle

  • Flowers mostly in spring, producing berries that contain 1 seed.

Impacts

Environmental

  • Smothers trees and damages rainforests, vine scrubs and riparian vegetation.

How it is spread

  • Berries dispersed by birds.

Control


Physical control

  • Prevent birds from accessing berries.
  • Dig out roots and dispose of them at your local waste facility.
  • Remove entire crown and underground stem to prevent regrowth. This requires digging underneath the central growing point and lifting it out of the ground. Any regrowth that occurs can be kept under control by regular mowing or digging out.

Herbicide control

  • Herbicides are effective.

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

Biological control

  • No known biological control agents.

Legal requirements

  • Climbing 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.
Last updated
01 July 2016