This shrubby, fern-like plant is similar to many other types of invasive Asparagus weeds, however, is very robust and smothering in forest understory. It was introduced as an ornamental plant in pots and gardens but has become highly invasive where berries are spread into bushland by birds. It can also be known as pom-pom asparagus.
Native to southern Africa, Ming asparagus fern spreads readily from cultivated areas to create monocultures in bushland. The fronds are covered in small spines, and the dense clumps restrict movement of people and animals. Their spread reduces available habitat and has negative impacts on soil health.
Ming asparagus fern stems arise from a single crown, becoming very robust with age and spreading to a 3x3m clump. Stems are thin and green when young, becoming thick and whitish with age. Prickles are found on all stems. The needle-like green leaves (or cladodes) are arranged in clusters of 20-30, resembling pom-poms. White flower clusters appear in Summer, followed by green to purple-black berries.
Ming asparagus fern is a priority weed on the North Coast. It should be eradicated when detected but can be difficult to remove or control. It cannot be sold or traded in this region. Further information and control options are detailed in the NSW WeedWise app, which is free to download, or on the website here: NSW WeedWise
If you find this weed on your property, Council’s Biosecurity Officer is happy to provide advice to help you bring this nasty weed under control.