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Bushy asparagusBushy asparagus

Common name: Bushy asparagus or asparagus fern
Botanical name: Asparagus aethiopicus  
Management programme: Advisory

Originates from South Africa. Introduced to New Zealand as an ornamental garden plant. It is considered a weed of coastal dunes. Consuming the red berries will cause stomach cramps and vomiting. Is poisonous to domestic cats and dogs.

Why is it a pest?

  • It has the ability to smother shrubs and other low vegetation.
  • It forms dense blankets of growth above ground and a root system of clumps and mats which excludes the growth of other vegetation.
  • Seeds dispersed by birds which are attracted to the red berries and through vegetative fragments being illegally dumped in garden rubbish.

Where is it found?

  • Found in coastal dunes, forest margins, farm hedges and roadsides. It prefers moderate to high light intensity.
  • Can be found scattered throughout the Bay of Plenty.

What does it look like?

  • A dense scrambler or climber with small pinkish-white flowers (October to March), red berries, long prickly stems, and sharp spiny scales.
  • Two different growth forms or cultivars are seen with bushy asparagus; one is a trailing scrambler with stems of 2m that are branched towards the tips and sparse flattened leaf-like cladodes (flattened stems 10-25mm), the other has erect stems up to 700mm which forms a dense cylinder with triangular shaped leaves (cladodes 5-10mm) .
  • Feathery flattened stems look like leaves.
  • Arching, wiry stems which arise from a central corn.

What are the rules?


The Bay of Plenty Regional Council does not enforce the control of advisory species. It is landowner/occupier responsibility to manage these pests. Council may provide advice on how to manage or control these species if required.

How do you get rid of it?


  1. Dig out tubers and dispose of appropriately where they cannot re-sprout.
  2. Spray spring to early summer only, with glyphosate no penetrant is required if spraying against tree trunks. Only spray lightly, avoid run-off.

Bushy asparagus is difficult to control. Stem fragments readily re-sprout when broken off in the ground. Follow up treatment will be required every six months.

CAUTION: When using any herbicide or pesticide, PLEASE READ THE LABEL THOROUGHLY to ensure that all instructions and directions for the purchase, use and storage of the product, are followed and adhered to.

Read more on pest control advice, information and regulations