21 Dec Climbing asparagus
This is a Weed of National Significance This weed must not be sold anywhere in NSW. Climbing asparagus is a small shrub or vine with prickly stems, fern-like leaves, and orange-red berries. It outcompetes native plants and reduces habitat and food for native animals.
Origin: Native of Africa and Saudi Arabia
Habit: Climbing asparagus grows in subtropical and tropical climates. It can tolerate dry conditions and grows in a wide variety of natural environments including, coastal dunes, heathland and headlands, forests (littoral, wet eucalypt and rainforests), vine thickets, open woodlands and mangroves and along waterways. It also invades disturbed areas such as urban bushland, roadsides, parks and gardens.
Leaves: Climbing asparagus has modified stems called cladodes that look like ferny leaves. The cladodes are about 8–15 mm long and about 0.5 mm wide, they are cylindrical and bristle-like with sharp tips in multiple spirals of 6–12 along the branches that grow off the main stem. They are present all year-round.
Flowers: Its flowers are small white to greenish-white with 6 petals 2.5 - 4 mm long, can be single or in clusters of up to 6 at the base of leaf clusters. They are mostly present in spring and summer.
Fruit and Seeds: It has round berries 5–6 mm in diameter, which are green when young and bright orange to orange-red when mature They are single-seeded, mostly present from spring to summer but can be present year-round.
Roots: Its roots are thick and fleshy (but without distinct tubers), fibrous with short rhizomes, a type of stem that grows just under the surface.
Dispersal: This weed can start producing fruit between 1 and 2 years of age. Up to 21 000 seeds are produced per plant and seeds can survive in the soil for up to 3 years. Birds, foxes, reptiles and other animals eat the fruit and thus spread the seed. Seeds can also be spread by water and dumped garden waste as plants can grow also from their rhizomes.
Control: Successful weed control requires follow up after the initial efforts. This means looking for and killing regrowth or new seedlings. Using a combination of control methods is usually more successful. To manage climbing asparagus, check for seedlings that germinate in autumn and early winter, control plants before they set seed in spring and summer. Very small seedlings can be hand pulled. Ensure all of the crown is removed. Crowning This method involves digging out the entire crown that sits just below the surface of the soil. The roots are left in the soil. By machine Slash or cut before the plant flowers and when there is no fruit present. Slashing or cutting the stems and leaves can stop new fruit from forming, and create access for other control methods. It will slowly weaken the plant but not kill it. Note that green fruits can be viable and set seed even if stems are cut. Chemical control Spot spraying Spray plants that are actively growing. Apply the herbicide mix to all of the foliage. Cut stump/scrape stem Cut the stems as close to the ground as possible. Apply herbicide to the remaining stems and to all of the crown within 15 seconds.
For more information go to https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/-/media/OEH/Corporate-Site/Documents/Animals-and-plants/Pests-and-weeds/asparagus-weeds-management-manual-130486.pdf
Climbing asparagus forms dense thickets above the ground and dense mats of roots below which outcompete native plants and prevent them from establishing, smother ground cover plants and small trees, prevents plants from germinating, reduce food and habitat for native animals. Invasion and establishment of exotic vines and scramblers has been identified as a key threatening process for many vulnerable and endangered species in NSW. Climbing asparagus is one of the main species listed as a threat.