Bridal veil creeper (Asparagus declinatus)

PROHIBITED MATTER: If you see this plant report it. Call the NSW DPI Biosecurity Helpline 1800 680 244
Also known as: bridal veil

Bridal veil creeper is a fern-like scrambler or low climber with light green, bluish-grey or whitish berries. It quickly outcompetes other plants and could degrade bushland in parts of coastal NSW.

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How does this weed affect you?

Bridal veil creeper can grow very densely at ground and shrub level. It also forms thick tuberous root mats. It is highly invasive and:

  • smothers native ground covers and shrubs
  • outcompetes native seedlings
  • reduces shelter and food for native animals.

What does it look like?

Bridal veil creeper is a scrambler or low climber up to 3 m tall. The above ground parts of the plant wither and die back in warm weather, usually in late spring. Although some plants retain foliage all year in cool moist conditions. The roots survive over summer and new shoots appear in autumn.

Leaf-like cladodes

Asparagus plants have modified stems called cladodes that look like leaves. The cladodes are:

  • greyish green or blue-green
  • soft, very fine and needle-like
  • 3–20 mm long and less than 1.5 mm wide
  • in groups of 3 along short, finely-branched side shoots 
  • usually most abundant and dense during winter.

Flowers are:

  • greenish-white with 6 petals
  • 5–8 mm in diameter
  • solitary or in pairs
  • on stalks 5–11 mm long
  • present from winter to mid-spring.

Fruit are:

  • spherical or egg-shaped
  • about 8–15 mm long and about 7 mm wide 
  • light green when unripe in late winter to early spring
  • whitish or bluish-grey when mature (in late spring and early summer) with 2–14 seeds in each berry
  • present from late winter to mid-summer. Fruit may be present for longer on plants in cool and wet areas. 

Seeds are:

  • about 2.5–3.5 mm long
  • black when ripe.

Stems are:

  • thornless
  • wiry and twining with many branches
  • up to 3 m long.

Roots are:

  • usually in the top 15 cm of soil, but can grow up to 1 m deep in sandy soil
  • extensive dense mats of fibrous rhizomes and tubers
    • long rhizomes run under the surface, radiating out from the base of stems
    • tubers are thick bulb-like and up to 6 cm long.

Similar looking plants

There are many other asparagus weeds in NSW. The most similar looking species to bridal veil creeper include:

  • Ground asparagus (Asparagus aethiopicus), which has smaller red berries and clusters of flowers.
  • Asparagus fern (Asparagus scandens), which has smaller cladodes which are often curved and orange or red fruit.

Where is it found?

Bridal veil creeper is not currently known to occur in NSW. It is present in south-west Western Australia, South Australia and western Victoria. 

Bridal veil creeper is native to South Africa. It was introduced into Australia in 1870 as an ornamental plant and naturalised by 1954.

What type of environment does it grow in?

Bridal veil creeper is a potential weed of roadsides, urban bushland, coastal habitats, the banks of waterways, waste areas, rocky outcrops, open woodlands, closed forests and plantations. 

It is suited to the climate of most of southern coastal Australia and can tolerate cold winters and frost. It can grow in a variety of soil types, including sandy soils. It grows well in both shade and full sun. Livestock eat bridal veil creeper so it is rarely found in pastures.

Maps and records

  • Recorded presence of Bridal veil creeper during property inspections (Map: Biosecurity Information System - Weeds, 2017-2022)
    These records are made by authorised officers during property inspections under the Biosecurity Act 2015. Officers record the presence of priority weeds in their council area and provide this to the NSW Department of Primary Industries. Records reflect the presence of the weed on the date of inspection.

How does it spread?

By seed

Under favourable conditions with high rainfall, bridal veil creeper can produce up to 4800 seeds per m2 per year. Both mature and immature fruit contain viable seed. It is not known how long bridal veil creeper seeds can stay viable.

Animals, including birds, possums, foxes, rodents and lizards, eat the fruit and disperse the seed. Birds can spread the seed up to 10 km away from the parent plant. Seed can also spread in water and garden waste, or via earthmoving equipment. 

By plant parts

Plants can re-shoot from the rhizomes or fragments of the rhizomes. Rhizomes are mostly spread by dumped garden waste and on earthmoving equipment. The tubers store nutrients but cannot form new plants on their own.

References

Australian Government (n.d.) Weeds in Australia: Asparagus declinatus. Retrieved 27 February 2020 from:  http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/biodiversity/invasive/weeds/weeddetails.pl?taxon_id=66908 

Invasive Species Compendium. (2014). Asparagus declinatus. Retrieved 20 August 2020 from: http://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/112476 

Lawrie S (2004) Biology, Ecology and Dispersal Vectors of Bridal Veil (Asparagus declinatus). School of Geography, Population and Environmental Management, Flinders University and Asparagus Weeds Working Group - Southern Hills Region, Adelaide, South Australia. Retrieved from:  http://www.weeds.org.au/WoNS/bridalcreeper/docs/SLawrie_BridalVeilPresweb.pdf 

Lawrie, S. (2006). Bridal Veil. In National Asparagus Weeds Management Committee, Asparagus Weeds - Best Practice Management Manual. Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation, South Australia. Retrieved from http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/invasive/weeds/publications/guidelines/manuals/asparagus-weeds-manual.html 

Obermeyer, A. A. (1984). Revision of the genus Myrsiphyllum Willd. Bothalia, 15(1/2), 77-88.

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 (NSW).

More information

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Control

Please do not attempt to treat or dispose of this weed yourself. Report this plant if you see it anywhere in NSW by calling the helpline listed at the top of this page immediately.

NSW DPI will lead an initial response for the treatment and disposal of the plant to stop it from spreading.

Physical control

Bridal veil creeper seedlings or small plants can be hand pulled in small to medium sized infestations. Plants can be dug out, but the entire root system needs to be removed.

Physical removal can be difficult, due to the way in which its root system can spread beneath the roots of nearby vegetation as well as other objects such as rocks, logs and other structures.

Herbicide control

Herbicide applications are recommended for medium to large infestations, but can also be used for small infestations.

For best results, use a foliar spray during the winter to early spring flowering period when plants are actively growing.

Foliage often mingles with desirable vegetation, making off-target damage from foliar spraying problematic. The foliage also provides little surface area for chemical uptake.

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 31/03/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Various products)
Rate: 1 part glyphosat to 50 parts water
Comments: Spot spray application
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Various products)
Rate: 1 part glyphosate to 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 31/03/2025
Metsulfuron-methyl 600 g/kg (Various products)
Rate: 1 - 2 g 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/L + Aminopyralid 4.47 g/L (Vigilant II ®)
Rate: Undiluted
Comments: Cut stump / stem injection 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.
All of NSW Prohibited Matter
A person who deals with prohibited matter or a carrier of prohibited matter is guilty of an offence. A person who becomes aware of or suspects the presence of prohibited matter must immediately notify the Department of Primary Industries

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

Reviewed 2020