Ground Asparagus Fern - Asparagus aethiopicus
Asparagus Fern was far and away the most common weed found on properties during the 2013 weed inspections in Forster. Originally popular as a garden and pot plant due to its striking foliage and hardy nature, it's now a major problem in many areas of Australia.
It was one of two plants singled out as a 'priority weed' for control during the Backyard Bushcare program in 2018 at Pacific Palms.
Birds and other animals love the berries and spread the seeds far and wide, including deep into bushland.
This photo of an Asparagus Fern branch, shows its numerous small, thin leaves, as well as ripe and unripe berries. Be careful to wear strong gloves when tackling Asparagus Fern, as it has many thorns along its wiry stems. Photo ©The State of Queensland (through the Dept of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry).
Asparagus Fern is a Weed of National Significance (WoNS). It is also a Class 4 Noxious Weed in the Great Lakes area.
For a detailed understanding, watch the Asparagus Fern identification and control video from the Pittwater Ecowarriors.
Asparagus species (particularly Asparagus Fern) were by far the most commonly found weeds during the Forster inspections in 2013, and very common in Pacific Palms in 2018. Once established in a garden, they spread easily into neighbouring yards and bushland.
The photo below clearly demonstrates the potential for Asparagus Fern to dominate the ground storey and modify natural ecosystems, if left unchecked.
To control Asparagus Fern, wearing strong gloves, remove any stems with ripe or unripe berries, and dispose of in the red bin.
Then locate and remove the crown of the plant. The "crown" is the woody growth that all the stems and roots grow from. Removal is most easily done with a knife, cutting the crown away from the roots.
The roots and water-bearing tubers can be left in the ground, as they do not re-shoot.
The crown should be disposed of in the red bin, stems without berries can be put in the green waste bin or compost. Illustration Virginia Bear.
Look out for...
There are a number of different species in the Asparagus family, many of which are serious environmental weeds in Australia. Besides Asparagus Fern (Asparagus aethiopicus), two other Asparagus species were found in Forster during the inspections - Foxtail Asparagus (Asparagus densiflorus), pictured here on the left, and Climbing Asparagus (Asparagus plumosus), on the right.
Both of these Asparagus plants are best controlled in the same way as Asparagus Fern.
Backyard Bushcare Asparagus Fact Sheet(PDF, 2MB)
NSW WeedWise website