Asparagus aethiopicus

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Asparagus aethiopicusWeed
Family: Asparagaceae
Genus: Asparagus
Common names: Basket Asparagus, Sprenger’s Asparagus, Asparagus Fern, Ground Asparagus
ALA reference

This is a Weed of National Significance

This is a Class 3 Declared Pest in Queensland

This is a Brisbane CIty Council Class C Pest 

One important difference between A. aethiopicus and the other two species present in the Reserve (A. africanus and A. plumosus) is the presence of large numbers of water storage tubers on the roots as can be seen in the photos below. These tubers make this plant incredibly hardy, and almost indestructible when grown in a hanging basket, which is probably why it was so popular some years ago. This plant is also very difficult to kill with herbicides. I’ve sprayed the plants with glyphosate and with Starane and while both cause the “leaves” to go yellow and die off, neither kills the plant. In no time at all the plant sends up fresh new growths.

I’ve found that the only successful control is to dig up the plants. When doing this it is important to understand the structure of these plants. The aerial stems are attached to a short creeping rhizome with a large mass of roots and water storage tubers under the ground. Neither the roots nor the water storage tubers contain any vegetative buds so once they are separated from the creeping rhizome they must die. Hence when digging up the plant it is important dig up the whole rhizome but it doesn’t matter how many roots and tubers are left in the soil because they cannot continue to grow. (July 2012)