Asparagus - ground asparagus (Asparagus aethiopicus)

Also known as: asparagus fern

Profile

Impact

Gound asparagus forms dense blankets of growth above ground and a profusion of roots and tubers below ground which suppresses other ground flora and reduces available soil moisture and nutrients. It is able to tolerate dry periods due to its well developed crowns and numerous tubers. Its is a common garden plant which easily re-establishes after being dumped as garden waste and has become a serious environmental weed.

Distribution

Groung asparagus is native to South Africa where it is restricted to the Cape Province and Natal. In New South Wales it is common along the coast from the Queensland border to near Batemans Bay. 

Spread

Ground asparagus reproduces both by seed and vegetatively from its crown or corm. Fragments of the short, crown-forming rhizomes can generate new plants, however the roots and tubers themselves cannot reproduce vegetatively, and act only as storage organs.

Spread occurs through the sale of nursery stock to gardeners, the dumping of garden waste containing crowns, fruits and seeds, and when birds feed on the fruit and disperse the seed. 

Description

Ground asparagus is a perennial plant with many arching, persistent stems 1-2 m long arising from a central corm or crown (a compressed group of very short rhizomes that forms a growing point for stems, sitting just below the surface of the soil). The roots are either well-developed and fleshy, bearing numerous, white, watery tubers (roughly ovoid in shape and 1.5 to 3 cm long), or finer and fibrous. The root system forms dense underground clumps and mats.

Stems are hairless, green to brown, often irregularly twisted, with older stems bearing short, straight, stiff spines, 5-10 mm long, just below many of the numerous short, leafy side branches. The "leaves", which occur in clusters of 1-5, are really cladodes (short, flattened stems that look and function like leaves). They are 1.5 to 2.5 cm long, 0.2 to 0.3 cm wide and taper to a fine short point. 

The white-pink flowers, each about 5 mm in diameter, are spaced along a short stem. The fruit is a berry, 5-8 mm wide, green at first then maturing to a glossy red. It contains one or a few black, globular seeds 3-5 mm diameter.

Habitat

Ground asparagus grows in warm-temperate regions within a temperature range with rainfall from 500 to 1500 mm annually. Preferring sandy or skeletal soils, it occurs in situations ranging from coastal dunes to open woodland, especially where some shade is available. 

References

Le Cussan J (2006). Eradication of invasive alien plants on Lord Howe Island, NSW, using three asparagus species (Asparagus asparagoides, A. plumosus, A. aethiopicus) as a case study. Plant Protection Quarterly 21, 117-21.

Parsons WT and Cuthbertson EC (2001). Noxious weeds in Australia 2nd Edn, CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood.

Vivian-Smith G, Gosper CR, Grimshaw T and Armstrong T (2006). Ecology and management of subtropical invasive asparagus (Asparagus africanus Lam. and A. aethiopicus L.). Plant Protection Quarterly 21.

Asparagus Weeds Management Manual (2013), NSW Office of Environment and Hertiage

PittwaterEcowarriers, Asparagus Weed Control 1. Asparagus aethiopicus (ground asparagus), https://www.youtube.com

Personal communication (March 2016), Cat Smykowsky, Bush regenerator, Northern coastal NSW.

Other publications

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Control

The rate and spread of ground asparagus can be minimised by preventing seed formation and contolling plants before flowering begins.

Plants can be controlled by crowning - the practice of digging out the entire crown or corm (by severing the tough surrounding roots) that sits just below the surface of the soil, and leaving the roots and watery tubers in situ. This helps to prevent unnecessary disturbance in sensitive areas, particularly coastal dune environments. 

Any small segment of the crown that is left behind can grow a new crown. Bag and burn the crown and any fruiting stems. Carefully spot spray, or recrown any regrowth or seedlings. Care must be taken when applying herbicides to avoid damaging desirable species growing nearby. 

Large infestations may require spot spraying, and a penetrant should be used in coastal areas where ground asparagus forms a waxy coating. 

Herbicide options

WARNING - ALWAYS READ THE LABEL
Users of agricultural or veterinary chemical products must always read the label and any permit, before using the product, and strictly comply with the directions on the label and the conditions of any permit. Users are not absolved from compliance with the directions on the label or the conditions of the permit by reason of any statement made or not made in this information. To view permits or product labels go to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority website www.apvma.gov.au

See Using herbicides for more information.


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2020
Fluroxypyr 333 g/L (Starane™ Advanced)
Rate: 300 to 600 ml in 100 L of water
Comments: Spot spray application
Withholding period: 7 days.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2020
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Roundup®)
Rate: 1 part glyphosate to 50 parts water
Comments: Spot spray application, best done between flowering and berries forming.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2020
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Roundup®)
Rate: 1 part glyphosate to 1.5 parts water
Comments: Cut stump/scrape stem.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2020
Glyphosate 360 g/L with Metsulfuron-methyl 600 g/kg (Various products)
Rate: Tank mix of up to 2 L glyphosate + 15 g metsulfuron-methyl per 100 L water.
Comments: Spot spray. Use a penetrant in coastal areas where the asparagus plants have a formed a waxy coating. For the treatment of this weed in areas of native vegetation, eg. subtropical rainforest remnants, littoral rainforest and other bushland reserves.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2020
Metsulfuron-methyl 600 g/kg (Brush-off®)
Rate: 1–2 g/10 L water plus non-ionic surfactant (0.1 % or 1 mL/L)
Comments: Spot spray application, best done between flowering and berries forming.
Withholding period: Nil (recommended not to graze for 7 days before treatment and for 7 days after treatment to allow adequate chemical uptake in target weeds).
Herbicide group: B, Inhibitors of acetolactate synthase (ALS inhibitors)
Resistance risk: High


Picloram 44.7 g/kg + Aminopyralid 4.47 g/L (Vigilant II ®)
Rate: Undiluted
Comments: Cut stump application
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


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Legal requirements

The content provided here is for information purposes only and is taken from the Noxious Weeds (Weed Control) Order 2014 published in the NSW Government Gazette, detailing weeds declared noxious in New South Wales, Australia, under the Noxious Weeds Act 1993. The Order lists the weed names, the control class and the control requirements for each species declared in a Local Control Authority area.

Area Class Legal requirements
Albury 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Balranald 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Bayside 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Bega Valley 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Bellingen 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Bland 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Blue Mountains 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed and the plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Bogan 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Bourke 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Brewarrina 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Broken Hill 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Burwood 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Cabonne 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Camden 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Campbelltown 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Canada Bay 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Canterbury-Bankstown 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Carrathool 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Castlereagh Macquarie County Council 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Central Coast 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Central Darling 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Central Murray County Council 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Cessnock 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Clarence Valley 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Cobar 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Coffs Harbour 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Coolamon 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Cootamundra-Gundagai 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Cowra 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Cumblerland 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed only in those areas formerly known as Auburn City and Holroyd Councils
Cumblerland 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The growth of the plant must be managed in a manner that continuously inhibits the ability of the plant to spread and the plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed only in area formerly known as Parramatta City Council
Dungog 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Eurobodalla 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Fairfield 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Federation 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Forbes 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Georges River 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Glen Innes Severn 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Goulburn Mulwaree 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Greater Hume 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Griffith 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Gunnedah 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Gwydir 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Hawkesbury River County Council 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Hay 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Hornsby 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The growth of the plant must be managed in a manner that continuously inhibits the ability of the plant to spread and the plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Hunters Hill 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The growth of the plant must be managed in a manner that continuously inhibits the ability of the plant to spread and the plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Illawarra District Weeds Authority 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Inner West 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Inverell 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Junee 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Kempsey 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Ku-ring-gai 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The growth of the plant must be managed in a manner that continuously inhibits the ability of the plant to spread and the plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Lachlan 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Lake Macquarie 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Lane Cove 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The growth of the plant must be managed in a manner that continuously inhibits the ability of the plant to spread and the plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Leeton 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Liverpool 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Liverpool Plains 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Lockhart 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Lord Howe Island 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed and the plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Lord Howe Island 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Maitland 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Mid-Coast 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Mid-Western Regional 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Moree Plains 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Mosman 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The growth of the plant must be managed in a manner that continuously inhibits the ability of the plant to spread and the plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Murray River (formerly Wakool) 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Murrumbidgee 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Nambucca 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Narrabri 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Narrandera 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Narromine 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
New England Tablelands County Council 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Newcastle 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
North Sydney 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The growth of the plant must be managed in a manner that continuously inhibits the ability of the plant to spread and the plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Northern Beaches 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The growth of the plant must be managed in a manner that continuously inhibits the ability of the plant to spread and the plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Orange 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Parkes 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Parramatta 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The growth of the plant must be managed in a manner that continuously inhibits the ability of the plant to spread and the plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed only in those parts of the areas formerly in Hornsby Shire Council and formerly known as Parramatta City Council
Parramatta 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed except in those parts of the areas formerly in Hornsby Shire Council and formerly known as Parramatta City Council
Port Macquarie-Hastings 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Port Stephens 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Randwick 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Rous County Council 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Ryde 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The growth of the plant must be managed in a manner that continuously inhibits the ability of the plant to spread and the plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Shoalhaven 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Snowy Monaro Regional 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Snowy Valleys 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Southern Slopes County Council 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Strathfield 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The growth of the plant must be managed in a manner that continuously inhibits the ability of the plant to spread and the plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Sutherland 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Sydney 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Tamworth Regional 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Temora 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Tenterfield 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Unincorporated Area of Western Division 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Upper Hunter County Council 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Upper Lachlan 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Upper Macquarie County Council 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Wagga Wagga 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Waverley 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Weddin 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Wentworth 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Western Plains Regional 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Willoughby 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The growth of the plant must be managed in a manner that continuously inhibits the ability of the plant to spread and the plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Wingecarribee 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Wollondilly 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed
Woollahra 4 Locally Controlled Weed
The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed

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For technical advice and assistance with identification please contact your local council weeds officer.
For further information call the NSW Invasive Plants and Animals Enquiry Line on 1800 680 244 or send an email to weeds@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Reviewed 2016