Asparagus Fern

South Africa

General description

Despite the common name, not actually a fern - its a scrambling or climbing evergreen fern-like perennial. Feathery flattened stems (cladodes) look like leaves, in bunches of 7-20 from each stem node.

Forest margins, farm hedges, roadsides. Prefers moderate to high light intensity. Tolerates dry conditions.

Seed dispersed by birds. Spread from garden debris.

Less impact than climbing asparagus or smilax. Competes with forest regeneration.

Site management

Regular follow up required.

Recommended approaches

1. Hand pull small infestations; dig out all roots.
2. Larger infestations: cut stems at 60cm above ground & spray/paint remaining stems (5g metsulfuron/1L).
3. Where vegetation beneath is not desirable, overall knapsack spray (100ml glyphosate+20ml penetrant/10L).

Caution: when using any herbicide or pesticide PLEASE READ THE LABEL THOROUGHLY to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Similar species

climbing asparagus
Asparagus scandens

Climbing asparagus has only 3 cladodes at each node, which are not so fine & needle-like.

bushy asparagus
Asparagus aethiopicus

Bushy asparagus has a denser growth habit and spiny leaves (cladodes).

RPMS status

Not a legally declared pest plant
asparagus fern - Main species image