Climbing asparagus - delicate, but damaging!

August's pest plant of the month

area of native bush infested with climbing asparagus
An area of bush infested with climbing asparagus

Climbing asparagus is a serious pest plant!

  • It climbs through, up, and over native plants, slowly smothering them.

  • It forms dense mats covering the ground, stopping new native plants from establishing.

  • Growing quickly it can rapidly take over an area.

A dense stand of wild ginger in flower
The feathery foliage of climbing asparagus

This perfect trio of features makes climbing asparagus (Asparagus scandens) a weed to take notice of. Originally from South America, this plant really shouldn't be here and is often spread by root material being dumped - so please report any garden waste dumping!


Pulling them up when they are small can be a good way to control, but the tiny nodules in the roots often break off and stay in the ground and grow into a new plant.


Get in touch if you see it or, better still, download and report on the EcoTrack app.




What does it look like?

Features:

  • Thin, fern-like leaves

  • Thin, wiry stems that wrap around and strangle other plants

  • Grows across the ground an up and over other plants

  • Green or orange-red berries

  • Small whitish flowers

  • (ferns don’t have berries or flowers)

Agapanthus growing on a roadside verge
Climbing asparagus root system showing the nodules (photo courtesy of Kaipātiki Project)

Why is it weedy?

  • Grows very quickly once established

  • Can outcompete other plants if left unchecked

  • Will eventually cover native plants or the entire ground preventing other plants growing

  • Does not support our native wildlife

  • Can form very large, dense infestations


For established plants more time is needed, but read on to find out how to control it.
Climbing asparagus seedling

How you can help:


Recognise - Learn what it looks like


Report - Use EcoTrack to report locations


Remove - Find out how to control the plant and get supplies from our Community Toolshed


Restore - Plant natives in its place, to stop it coming back, and to support our native wildlife.


Links:

Climbing asparagus (Asparagus scandens) • Weedbusters

Climbing asparagus- Pests in Auckland (Auckland Council)

See page 16 of the Plant me instead booklet


Check out the Weedbusters: Climbing asparagus page for lots more photos.


What can I plant instead?

A volunteer controlling wild ginger
Climbing asparagus smothering a lancewood horoeka

What can I do to get rid of it?


Important: disposal of the roots and rhizomes is most important stems and foliage can be left to rot down. Berries should also be collected and disposed of if present.

  • Dig up roots and rhizomes.

  • Dispose of roots/rhizomes in a container of water with a lid or in a heavy duty weed bag to rot down over a number of months, dry them out, or burn them.

  • Cut down stems and foliage and leave on site to mulch down.

  • Careful spot spraying can be used to treat seedlings and regrowth - talk to us about borrowing spray equipment.*

For larger infestations:

  • Cut away all stems and foliage in one go close to the ground, then return and treat any regrowth after a few weeks, or dig up all remaining clusters as they appear.

Talk to your friends, family and neighbours about how bad climbing asparagus is and encourage them to take action too.


See all our pest plant disposal information on our website.

*always read the label before using any herbicides. Other herbicide treatments are possible.

If you have a significant area of climbing asparagus threatening an area of bush or a reserve, just get in touch and we can help.


Contact us

Email: team@pestfreekaipatiki.org.nz

Facebook: facebook.com/pestfreekaipatiki



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