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Detailed information sheet

Click on the photos for a larger image.

Botanical name :
Asparagus densiflorus
Family :
Liliaceae (lily) family 
Common name :
bushy asparagus 
Also known as :
possum tail, Asparagus sprengeri, Asparagus meyeri, Asparagus aethiopicus, Protasparagus aethiopicus 
Where is it originally
from? :
South Africa
What does it look like? :
Two growth forms are known: (1) cultivar ‘Sprengeri’ is a trailing scrambler with stems to 2 m that are branched towards tips, and with sparse cladodes (flattened leaf-like stems,10-25 mm) that are flat in cross section, and (2) cultivar ‘Meyeri’ has erect stems to 700 mm forming a dense cylinder, and is covered in cladodes (5-10 mm) that are triangular in cross section. Both cultivars have small tubers, thin wiry stems, tiny pinkish flowers and bright red berries. 
Are there any similar
species? :
Climbing asparagus (A. scandens), and asparagus fern (A. setaceus, also known as A. plumosa) are similar.
Why is it weedy? :
Dense, patch-forming habit, tough, long-lived tubers that resprout, moderate to slow growth rate, and seeds that are widely distributed. Tolerates moderate to high rainfall.
How does it spread? :
Birds spread the seeds, and tubers resprout and are spread by soil and water movement. Common as both a garden and house plant, and occasionally found in hedges. 
What damage does it do? :
Can smother shrubs and other low vegetation. 
Which habitats is
it likely to invade? :
Bush edges, low-growing habitats and dune vegetation, especially near gardens. 
What can I do to get
rid of it? :

1. Dig out tubers. Dispose of at a refuse transfer station or burn. Leave rest of cut material on site to rot down.
2. Weed wipe (spring-early summer only): glyphosate (333ml/L), no penetrant.
3. Spray (spring-early summer only): glyphosate (20ml/L). Do not add penetrant when spraying against tree trunks. Spray lightly, avoiding runoff. 
What can I do to
stop it coming back? :
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. 

Description:Asparagus densiflorus.Photo:E.Cameron

Description:Asparagus densiflorus cv. meyerii.Photo:by J.Craw


For more detailed botanical descriptions of weed species, check out the Plant Conservation Network's website at http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/exotic_plant_life_and_weeds/index.asp

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*The chemical control methods in this manual were devised by Department of Conservation staff for Department of Conservation operations and should not be used as a substitute for the pesticide manufacturer's label instructions. The Department of Conservation takes no responsibility for any liability or damage to any person, property or thing which may occur as a result of the use of any pesticide in accordance with the chemical control methods contained on this website.


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