Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Asparagus africanus
Lam., Asparagaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Other Latin names:  Protasparagus africanus (Lam.) Oberm.

Common name(s): [more details]

English: African asparagus, asparagus-fern, climbing asparagus fern

Habit:  fern

Description:  "Erect or climbing or scrambling shrub to 4 m; branches terete to angled, glabrous to pubescent, with spines 3-5 mm long; terminal branches with or without spines. Cladodes fasciculate, 5-25, subulate, stiff or flexible, 3-15 mm long. Flowers in fascicles of 2-10(-35), axillary and terminal; bracts lanceolate, 1.5 mm long, falling off quickly; pedicels 3-8(-10) mm long, articulated below the middle. Tepals white to cream, ± equal, 3-4 mm long, entire; stamens shorter than the perianth, anthers yellow; ovary 3-locular with 4-8 ovules in each locule; style 1 mm long, 3-branched. Berry red, 5-6 mm in diameter, 1-seeded"  (Flora of Tropical East Africa).

"Slender scrambling shrub or climber. Stems with spreading branches, closely set with cladodes (leaf-like modified branchlets) in clusters of up to 12, unequal in length, up to 10 mm. Flowers whitish with yellow anthers, up to 6 inside the cladode clusters; fruits orange, turning blackish when old"  (Flora of Zimbabwe).

"This African climber has narrow leaves and prickly stems that help it to clamber up and hang over other plants or supporting structure. Clusters of small, white flowers in spring are followed by green ripening to orange berries that are eaten and dispersed by birds. In absence of a host on which to climb, this weed can grow as a scrambling, low shrub." (Queensland Government, 2007 [see also 2016 revision])

Habitat/ecology:  "As its name suggests, this plant is an accomplished climber and easily scrambles over other vegetation up to 12 m into the canopy. Naturalised in several coastal regions, it has the potential to smother trees and damage rainforests, vine scrubs and riparian vegetation." (Queensland Government, 2007 [see also 2016 revision])

Propagation:  Seed, spread by birds. (Queensland Government, 2007 [see also 2016 revision])

Native range:  Africa and the Arabian penninsula (GRIN).

Presence:

Pacific
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
O‘ahu Island   Bishop Museum (U.S.A. Hawaii. Honolulu.) (1993) (voucher ID: BISH 633635)
Taxon name on voucher: Asparagus africanus Lam.
Pacific Rim
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Australia
Australia (continental)
New South Wales introduced
invasive
cultivated
Csurhes, S./Edwards, R. (1998) (p. 95)
Australia
Australia (continental)
Queensland introduced
invasive
cultivated
Queensland [Australia] Government (2007)

Control: 

Physical:  "Unwanted plants should be dug out by the roots and disposed of at the appropriate Council landfill site. Take care to remove the entire crown or underground stem of the plant and hang above the ground, to prevent the chance of regrowth. This practice requires digging underneath the central growing point and lifting it out of the ground. Any regrowth that occurs can be kept under control by regular mowing or digging out." (Queensland Government, 2007 [see also 2016 revision])

Chemical:  See (Queensland Government, 2007 [see also 2016 revision]), for herbicides registered in Australia for control of asparagus fern.


Need more info? Have questions? Comments? Information to contribute? Contact PIER! (pier@hear.org)

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This page was created on 30 AUG 2009 and was last updated on 8 JUL 2017.