Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Asparagus densiflorus
(Kunth) Jessop, Asparagaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Risk assessment results: 

Evaluate, score: 3 (Go to the risk assessment (Australia))
High risk, score: 15 (Go to the risk assessment (Pacific))

Other Latin names:  Asparagopsis densiflorus Kunth; Asparagus aethiopicus L.; Asparagus sprengeri Regel; Protasparagus densiflorus (Kunth) Oberm.

Common name(s): [more details]

Chinese: fei zhou tian men dong

English: asparagus fern, coarse asparagus fern, foxtail fern, regal fern, Sprenger's asparagus fern

French: asperge de Sprenger

Habit:  herb

Description:  "Herb, perennial, coarse, with weak, drooping stems to 2 m long and short spines below the axils on the main stem.  Leaves reduced to scales but leaf-like, solitary or with clusters of two or three linear branchlets called cladophylls, mostly 1-2.5 x 0.1-0.2 cm, arising from their axils.  Flowers anytime during the year; flowers many, fragrant, in short axillary racemes 1-3 cm long.  Corolla of six free elliptic tepals 1.5-3 mm long, pinkish white.  Fruit a small, red, one- to three-seeded, globose berry 6-12 mm in diameter" (Whistler, 2000; pp.72-73).

Habitat/ecology:  Dry to moist forests and openings. In Australia has invaded coastal, littoral rainforest, rainforest, frontal dunes and sclerophyll forest and coastal heath (Csurhes and Edwards, 1998; p. 143).  "Coastal sand dunes and beaches, coastal cliffs and scrub, forests, riparian habitats.  Where invasive, the plant forms extensive and dense colonies that displace native understorey and ground cover species; it overtops shrubs and young trees.  The plant grows in both low and high light conditions and produces a dense mass of somewhat fleshy roots, bearing numerous tubers.  Once established, it grows vigorously and forms a dense crown of 2-3 m diameter, shading out other species"  (Weber, 2003; p. 59).

Propagation:  "Birds spread the seeds, and tubers resprout and are spread by soil and water movement. Common as garden and house plant, and occasionally found in hedges"  (Weedbusters New Zealand).

Native range:  Southern Africa, widely grown as an ornamental for its fern-like foliage (Whistler, 2000; p.72).

Presence:

Pacific
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Australia (Pacific offshore islands)
Lord Howe Island
Lord Howe Island introduced
invasive
Csurhes, S./Edwards, R. (1998) (p. 143)
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (US)
Northern Mariana Islands
Tinian Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1987) (p. 100)
Cook Islands
Southern Cook Islands
Rarotonga Island cultivated
McCormack, Gerald (2013)
Cook Islands
Southern Cook Islands
Rarotonga Island introduced
cultivated
Space, James C./Flynn, Tim (2002) (p. 64)
Ecuador (Galápagos Islands)
Isabela Group
Isabela Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Charles Darwin Foundation (2008)
Ecuador (Galápagos Islands)
Isabela Group
Volcán Sierra Negra, Isabela Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Charles Darwin Foundation (2008)
Ecuador (Galápagos Islands)
San Cristóbal Group
San Cristóbal Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Charles Darwin Foundation (2008)
Ecuador (Galápagos Islands)
Santa Cruz Group
Santa Cruz Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Charles Darwin Foundation (2008)
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Fiji Islands   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1949) (voucher ID: BISH 449723)
Taxon name on voucher: Asparagus densiflorus (Kunth) Jessop
French Polynesia
Gambier Islands
Mangareva (Gambier) Island introduced
cultivated
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
Cultivée
French Polynesia
Gambier Islands
Mangareva (Gambier) Island introduced
cultivated
St. John, Harold (1988) (p. 11)
Voucher cited: Fosberg 11168 (BISH)
French Polynesia
Marquesas Islands
Fatu Hiva Island introduced
cultivated
Lorence, David H./Wagner, Warren L. (2013)
French Polynesia
Marquesas Islands
Nuku Hiva (Nukahiva) Island introduced
cultivated
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
Cultivée
French Polynesia
Marquesas Islands
Ua Huka (Huahuna, Uahuka) Island introduced
cultivated
Lorence, David H./Wagner, Warren L. (2013)
French Polynesia
Society Islands
Bora Bora Island introduced
cultivated
Welsh, S. L. (1998) (p. 352)
Voucher cited: Grant 4999
French Polynesia
Society Islands
Raiatea (Havai) Island introduced
cultivated
Welsh, S. L. (1998) (p. 352)
Vouchers cited: Fosberg & Sachet 63225, Florence 3514, Moore 546, Moore 579
French Polynesia
Society Islands
Raiatea (Havai) Island introduced
cultivated
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
Voucher cited: J. Florence 3514 (PAP)
Cultivée
French Polynesia
Society Islands
Raiatea (Havai) Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1982) (voucher ID: BISH 492825)
Taxon name on voucher: Asparagus densiflorus (Kunth) Jessop
French Polynesia
Society Islands
Raiatea (Havai) Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1982) (voucher ID: BISH 607307)
Taxon name on voucher: Asparagus densiflorus (Kunth) Jessop
French Polynesia
Society Islands
Taha‘a Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R. (1997) (p. 65)
French Polynesia
Society Islands
Tahiti Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R. (1997) (p. 65)
French Polynesia
Society Islands
Tahiti Island introduced
cultivated
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
Cultivée
French Polynesia
Austral (Tubuai) Islands
Rurutu Island introduced
cultivated
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
Voucher cited: J. Florence 6223 (PAP). "Ornementale assez commune".
Cultivée
Guam
Guam Island
Guam Island introduced
cultivated
Stone, Benjamin C. (1970) (p. 115)
Guam
Guam Island
Guam Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1987) (p. 100)
Guam
Guam Island
Guam Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1965) (voucher ID: BISH 82184)
Taxon name on voucher: Asparagus sprengeri
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Hawai‘i (Big) Island introduced
invasive
Oppenheimer, Hank L. (2003) (p. 14)
Voucher cited: Oppenheimer & S. Holt H30119 (BISH, PTBG)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Kaua‘i Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Lorence, David/Flynn, Tim (1999) (pp. 4-5)
Vouchers cited: T. Flynn 6494 (BISH, PTBG, US), T. Flynn 6495 (BISH, PTBG, US)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Lāna‘i Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Oppenheimer, Hank (2007) (p. 26)
Voucher cited: Oppenheimer H100642 (BISH, PTBG)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Maui Island introduced
invasive
Oppenheimer, Hank L./Bartlett, R. T. (2000) (p. 6)
West Maui. Voucher cited: Oppenheimer H99909 (BISH)
Japan (offshore islands)
Ogasawara (Bonin) Islands
Bonin (Ogasawara) Islands introduced
Kato, Hidetoshi (2007)
Marshall Islands
Ralik Chain
Kwajalein (Kuwajleen) Atoll introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1987) (p. 100)
Marshall Islands
Ralik Chain
Kwajalein (Kuwajleen) Atoll introduced
cultivated
Whistler, W. A./Steele, O. (1999) (p. 104)
Marshall Islands
Ratak Chain
Majuro (Mãjro) Atoll introduced
cultivated
Vander Velde, Nancy (2003) (p. 41)
Nauru
Nauru Island
Nauru Island introduced
cultivated
Thaman, R. R./Fosberg, F. R./Manner, H. I./Hassall, D. C. (1994) (p. 55)
Vouchers cited: Fosberg 58711 (US), Hassall 167 (SUVA), Hassall 180 (SUVA)
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Archipelago
Île Grande Terre introduced
invasive
cultivated
MacKee, H. S. (1994) (p. 93)
cv. "Sprengeri"; vouchers cited: MacKee 14445, MacKee 28345, MacKee 43187
Spontané
Niue
Niue
Niue Island introduced
cultivated
Yuncker, T. G. (1943) (p. 32)
As Asparagus sprengeri Regel
Palau
Palau (Belau ) (main island group)
Koror (Oreor) Island introduced
cultivated
Space, James C./Waterhouse, Barbara/Miles, Joel E./Tiobech, Joseph/Rengulbai, Kashgar (2003) (pp. 12, 79)
Palau
Palau (Belau ) (main island group)
Ngerkebesang Island introduced
cultivated
Space, James C./Waterhouse, Barbara/Miles, Joel E./Tiobech, Joseph/Rengulbai, Kashgar (2003) (pp. 12, 79)
Samoa
Western Samoa Islands
Upolu Island introduced
cultivated
Space, James C./Flynn, Tim (2002) (p. 8)
Tonga
Ha‘apai Group
Lifuka Island introduced
cultivated
Space, James C./Flynn, Tim (2001) (p. 6)
Tonga
Tongatapu Group
Tongatapu Island introduced
cultivated
Space, James C./Flynn, Tim (2001) (p. 6)
Tonga
Tongatapu Group
Tongatapu Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1959) (voucher ID: BISH 41331)
Taxon name on voucher: Asparagus densiflorus (Kunth) Jessop
Tonga
Vava‘u Group
Vava‘u Island introduced
cultivated
Space, James C./Flynn, Tim (2001) (p. 6)
United States (other Pacific offshore islands)
Midway Atoll
Sand Island introduced
cultivated
Starr, Forest/Starr, Kim/Loope, Lloyd (2008) (pp. B-4)
Voucher cited: Starr & Starr 080607-02
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. 143)
Australia
Australia (continental)
Queensland introduced
invasive
cultivated
Csurhes, S./Edwards, R. (1998) (p. 143)
Australia
Australia (continental)
Queensland introduced
invasive
Queensland Herbarium (2002) (p. 1)
As Asparagus aethiopicus cv. 'Sprengeri'
China
China
China (People's Republic of) introduced
invasive
cultivated
Zhengyi, Wu/Raven, Peter H./Deyuan, Hong (2013)
Commonly cultivated and occasionally becoming naturalized.
China
China
Hong Kong introduced
cultivated
Wu, Te-lin (2001) (p. 357)
cv. Sprengeri. Ornamental.
Singapore
Singapore
Singapore (Republic of) introduced
cultivated
Chong, Kwek Yan/Tan, Hugh T. W./Corlett, Richard T. (2009) (p. 16)
Cultivated only
United States (west coast)
United States (west coast states)
USA (California) introduced
U.S. Dept. Agr., Nat. Res. Cons. Serv. (2013)
Indian Ocean
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Australia (Indian Ocean offshore islands)
Christmas Island Group
Christmas Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Swarbrick, J. T. (1997) (p. 105)
Also reported from
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
United States (continental except west coast)
United States (other states)
USA (Florida) introduced
U.S. Dept. Agr., Nat. Res. Cons. Serv. (2013)

Comments:  Asparagus densiflorus has recently been found to be rather widespread in Hawai‘i on the island of Kaua‘i. There it is spreading along roadsides and invading secondary forest and seems to have the ability to withstand herbicide treatments used to control vegetation along roads (Tim Flynn, pers. com.)

Control:  "Tubers often resprout after spraying, stems break at ground level so plants cannot be pulled. Tuber fragments usually survive digging.  Always follow up on treated areas at least 6-monthly. Replant treated areas where possible after 2- 3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion"  (Weedbusters New Zealand).

Physical:  "Dig out tubers. Dispose of at a refuse transfer station or burn. Leave rest of cut material on site to rot down"  (Weedbusters New Zealand).

Chemical:  "Regrowth and seedlings can be effectively controlled with dicamba"  (Weber, 2003; p. 59).  "1. Weed wipe (spring-early summer only): glyphosate (333ml/L), no penetrant.
2. Spray (spring-early summer only): glyphosate (20ml/L). Do not add penetrant when spraying against tree trunks. Spray lightly, avoiding runoff"  (Weedbusters New Zealand).


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

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This page was created on 1 JAN 1999 and was last updated on 22 AUG 2011.