Ming asparagus fern (Asparagus macowanii var. zuluensis)

Also known as: pom-pom asparagus, zig-zag asparagus

This weed belongs to the group Asparagus weeds

Profile

Impact

Ming asparagus fern has the potential to invade a wide range of coastal and sub-coastal plant communities from north-east Queensland to eastern South Australia, and south-west Western Australia.

It strongly competes with native ground cover and understorey plants by forming dense infestations that can smother, and prevent the germination and establishment of other species.

It can attain very large and continuous infestations.

Distribution

Ming asparagus fern is a native of south-eastern Africa. It was introduced into Australia as an ornamental plant and was first recorded naturalised in 2001 near Brisbane. It is now naturalised in coastal and sub-coastal areas of south-east Queensland and very sparingly down to central New South Wales.

Spread

Ming asparagus fern primarily reproduces from seed, but can also spread vegetatively from the roots.

The main growth period is from autumn through to spring, but green foliage is present year-round. Flowering chiefly occurs in spring and early summer. Fruit set occurs from spring to summer, but fruit can be present year-round.

Fruit are spread by birds, foxes, reptiles and other animals that can deposit seeds far from the parent plants. Fruit are also spread by water and dumping garden waste.

Vegetative spread is primarily by people dumping garden waste.

Description

Ming asparagus fern is a shrubby plant with a fern-like appearance, usually growing 1-2 m tall; although it occasionally grows to 3 m.

The root system consists of relatively short, fleshy, tuberous roots.

Older stems are pale grey to whitish and have small spines.

Leaf-like cladodes (modified stems) are needle-like, hairless, usually slightly curved, 12-25 mm long and about 0.5 mm wide. They are borne in cluster of 20-30 along the stems; the clusters somewhat resemble pom poms.

Flowers are small, bisexual (both male and female parts present), white to cream, borne on short stalks and arranged in dense clusters. They are produced in large numbers for a short period in summer.

Berries are 6-10 mm in diameter, rounded, green at first and turning purple to pinkish-red or with a bluish bloom to black as they mature. Fruit are borne year round.

Habitat

Ming asparagus fern prefers semi-shaded situations.

It is primarily found in the understorey of drier forests, but has the potential to invade riparian areas, forest margins, open woodlands, urban bushland, coastal environs, roadsides, disturbed sites and waste areas. 

Acknowledgements

Author: Harry Rose

Reviewers: Rod Ensbey, Elissa van Oosterhout

References

Office of Environment and Heritage (2013). Asparagus weeds management manual: current management and control options for asparagus weeds (Asparagus spp.) in Australia. Office of Environment and Heritage, Sydney. 

Technigro (2011) Weed Watch: Ming asparagus fern. Available at: http://www.technigro.com.au/Ming%20asparagus%20fern%20-%20web.pdf 

Other publications

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Control

Ming asparagus fern is banned from sale, propagation and knowing distribution across all of NSW. It is a Regionally Prohibited, notifiable noxious weed in many council areas. This declaration requires that plants must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant. Suspected plants should be reported to the local council weeds officer for assistance with positive identification, control and removal.

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
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Roundup®)
Rate: 1 part glyphosate in 50 parts water
Comments: Spot spray application
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 in 1.5 parts water
Comments: Cut stump / scrape stem application
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 - 2g in 10 L of water, plus a non-ionic surfactant
Comments: Spot spray application
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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Biosecurity duty

The content provided here is for information purposes only and is taken from the Biosecurity Act 2015 and its subordinate legislation, and the Regional Strategic Weed Management Plans (published by each Local Land Services region in NSW). It describes the state and regional priorities for weeds in New South Wales, Australia.

Area Duty
All of NSW General Biosecurity Duty
All plants are regulated with a general biosecurity duty to prevent, eliminate or minimise any biosecurity risk they may pose. Any person who deals with any plant, who knows (or ought to know) of any biosecurity risk, has a duty to ensure the risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable.
Greater Sydney Regional Recommended Measure*
Land managers should mitigate the risk of new weeds being introduced to their land. The plant should be eradicated from the land and the land kept free of the plant. The plant should not be bought, sold, grown, carried or released into the environment. Notify local control authority if found.
North Coast Regional Recommended Measure*
Land managers should mitigate the risk of new weeds being introduced to their land. The plant should be eradicated from the land and the land kept free of the plant. The plant should not be bought, sold, grown, carried or released into the environment. Notify local control authority if found.
South East Regional Recommended Measure*
Land managers should mitigate the risk of new weeds being introduced to their land. The plant should be eradicated from the land and the land kept free of the plant. The plant should not be bought, sold, grown, carried or released into the environment. Notify local control authority if found.
*To see the Regional Strategic Weeds Management Plans containing demonstrated outcomes that fulfill the general biosecurity duty for this weed click here

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Reviewed 2017