Warning

Seek medical attention if exposure results in symptoms.

Description

A perennial vine or herb arising from a rhizome or tuber and grown as an indoor or outdoor ornamental plant. The vine form is often used for cut foliage. Some species are environmental weeds.

Flowers are pinkish-white to white, range in length from 2.5mm to 4mm, can be solitary or paired, in racemes or clustered in the axils.

The leaf-like foliage is not a true leaf but a cladode, a stem which takes on the function of a leaf. The actual leaves are reduced to scales while the foliage (or cladodes) can be of two forms. Expanded and fern-like or needle-like in clusters of three and compacted into a ‘fox-tail’ plume of foliage.

Toxicity

  • Irritant to skin or eyes

Symptoms

This plant is not considered toxic. Contact with the sap can cause skin irritation and dermatitis. The prickles may also cause mechanical injury.

Images

Photo by Lorna Ngugi
Photo by Lorna Ngugi

Details

Common name: Asparagus fern

Botanical nameAsparagus spp. includes A. aethiopicus, A. densiflorus, A. plumosus, A. africanus

Other common names: Sprenger’s asparagus, Climbing asparagus fern

Family: Asparagaceae

General description: A perennial vine or herb arising from a rhizome or tuber and grown as an indoor or outdoor ornamental plant. The vine form is often used for cut foliage. Some species are environmental weeds.

Flowers: Flowers are pinkish-white to white, range in length from 2.5mm to 4mm, can be solitary or paired, in racemes or clustered in the axils.

Leaves: The leaf-like foliage is not a true leaf but a cladode, a stem which takes on the function of a leaf. The actual leaves are reduced to scales while the foliage (or cladodes) can be of two forms. Expanded and fern-like or needle-like in clusters of three and compacted into a ‘fox-tail’ plume of foliage.

Fruit/Berries: The fruit are succulent berries 4 to 8mm in diameter and, depending on which species, green ripening to red, orange or purple/black.

Other: There are prickles present on the stems and around the base of the plant which can cause mechanical injury. Many Asparagus, species are restricted under Queensland’s Biosecurity Act 2014.

Last updated: July 2023