Asparagus fern

What is Asparagus fern?

(Asparagus scandens)
Asparagus FernGeneric Weed Distribution Map
  • Asparagus fern is a serious environmental weed.
  • Asparagus fern is a declared weed under the Tasmanian Weed Management Act 1999. The importation, sale and distribution of Asparagus fern are prohibited in Tasmania.

How to identify Asparagus fern

  • Asparagus fern is a perennial (long-lived) twining or scrambling vine, (or creeper), with thin stems growing to 3 m long. The fine leaves are shiny, spear shaped, (pointed at the tip), occurring in groups of three at intervals along the stem.
  • Small white to pinkish flowers with six petals occur in late winter/early spring, (August to October), leading to fruits that are fleshy globular berries, orange-red when ripe. Produced from late October, fruits may be present at all times of year.
  • Asparagus fern has a short branching rhizome (underground stem) which gives rise to a mass of tuberous roots which form a dense impenetrable mat.
  • Asparagus fern does not usually die back during summer and has year-round growth that vigorously smothers other vegetation.

Asparagus FernAsparagus Fern

Images: Asparagus fern (All images: K Stewart)

Asparagus fern in Tasmania

  • Asparagus fern is found mostly in northern Tasmania on or near the coast (see map). The most severe infestations occur on King Island and around Bridport. Smaller infestations also occur in coastal areas between Devonport and Burnie.
  • Asparagus fern is tolerant of salt, shade, dry and moist conditions, and grows on a variety of soils including sand. The weed can invade both disturbed and undisturbed native vegetation including dry forest and coastal heath. Dense infestations of the vines and the impenetrable root mats can smother native vegetation and prevent native plants from re-generating.

What is the legal status of Asparagus fern in your area?

The legal responsibilities of landholders and other stakeholders in dealing with Asparagus Fern are laid out in the asparagus fern Statutory Weed Management Plan.

Use Table 1 (Zone A municipalities) in the Statutory Weed Management Plan to find out whether your area falls in an eradication or containment zone.

Detailed management and control guidelines for Asparagus fern can be found in the Asparagus Fern Control Guide. Refer also to Herbicides for Asparagus Fern Control. For further information see DPIPWE's Weed Links and Resources.

See also
Asparagus Fern Control Guide
Herbicides for Asparagus Fern control
Statutory Weed Management Plan for Asparagus Fern
Weed Links and Resources

Other useful links
Pest Genie

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