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Asparagus asparagoides

Description
 

Bridal Creeper (Asparagus asparagoides) is a climbing herb or vine to 3 m, arising from a short rhizome attached to tuberous roots. The above ground portion can die back annually or when conditions are unfavourable. The adult foliage of Bridal Creeper is not that of true leaves but flattened leaf-like appendages called cladodes or phylloclades that arise from the base of the true leaves, which are reduced to scales. The cladodes are stalkless, dull to glossy green, ovate to broadly lanceolate (shaped like the head of a lance), 10-70 mm long, 4-30 mm wide and have delicate parallel venation with no apparent midrib. It has white flowers and bright red fleshy berries, normally each with 1-4 shiny black seeds, but occasionally with more (CRC 2003).

 

For further information and assistance with identification of Bridal Creeper contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Distribution:Bridal Creeper is a weed of southern Australia, widespread in southwestern Western Australia and the coastal regions further east. It is absent from the Nullarbor Plain but is present in southern South Australia, widespread throughout the Eyre, York and Fleurieu Peninsulas, stretching through the Murray Mallee and the south-east regions into Victoria, where it is widespread throughout the entire state. It is of scattered distribution in inland New South Wales but most common along the southern and central coastal regions. Scattered populations have been recorded along the northern and eastern coastal regions of Tasmania, as well as some of the Bass Strait islands. It is also recorded from Lord Howe Island. Herbarium collections have also been made from some of the cooler areas of south-east Queensland around Warwick, Toowoomba and Killarney (CRC 2003; Navie 2004; AVH 2007).

Habit:Vine, Herb
Key points:
  • Bridal Creeper (Asparagus asparagoides) is a serious, highly invasive environmental weed, destroying large areas of the native vegetation in southern Australia.
  • It is difficult to eradicate due to the size and inaccessibility of many infestations.
  • Bridal Creeper produces many underground tubers, all capable of producing new plants if not removed and destroyed.
  • Herbicides and manual removal is the most effective method of removal but is costly and labour intensive and not feasible in many areas.
  • Biological control is regarded as a preferred management option for many infestations of Bridal Creeper.
How it spreads:Bridal Creeper plants can produce more than 1000 berries per square metre. Birds feed on the berries and later excrete the seeds at perch sites, usually within 100 m of source plants. However, seed dispersed by birds has helped spread the weed along roadsides and into native vegetation patches further afield. Rabbits and foxes also eat fruit and disperse seeds (CRC 2003).

The plant can spread as the root system slowly expands in area. Movement of soil containing roots (e.g. by grading) can spread plants further. Dumping of garden rubbish containing Bridal Creeper seeds or roots also spreads the weed (CRC 2003).

Where it grows:Bridal Creeper grows in warm-temperate to tropical regions, preferring fertile, well-drained soils of light texture. It is often grown as an ornamental, and occurs as a weed along roadsides, in town allotments, orchards and citrus groves, waste places and disturbed scrubland close to habitation. Bridal Creeper invades dry coastal vegetation, heathland and heathy woodland, mallee shrubland, lowland grassland and grassy woodland, dry sclerophyll forest and woodland, damp sclerophyll forest, riparian vegetation, rock outcrop vegetation, and warm temperate rainforest (CRC 2003; Victorian Resources Online 2007). Bridal Creeper is frost tolerant and its perennial root system enables it to survive summer drought (CRC 2003).

Flower colour:White
Distribution map: Weed Distribution Map
Impacts:

Bridal Creeper is a Weed of National Significance. It is regarded as one of the worst weeds in Australia because of its invasiveness, potential for spread, and economic and environmental impacts (CRC 2003).

Bridal Creeper is a highly invasive environmental weed and unlike most environmental weeds can establish in undisturbed native vegetation. The climbing stems of Bridal Creeper form a dense canopy which smothers other vegetation, and the masses of underground roots can extend to form a thick, dense mat which destroys understorey plants and often prevents seedling establishment (Wills 1999; CRC 2003). Rare native plants are threatened with extinction by Bridal Creeper (CRC 2003).

Loss to primary industries (e.g. by shading citrus and avocado trees and interfering with fruit picking), especially in the Murray River irrigation area are also known (CRC 2003).

Origin:

Bridal Creeper is native to Ethiopia, Swaziland and the Cape Province, Natal, Orange Free State and Transvaal regions of South Africa. As well as being naturalised in Australia it is also naturalised in southern Europe, New Zealand, western United States and the islands of the north Atlantic ocean collectively known as Macaronesia (USDA 2007).

History:Bridal Creeper was introduced into Australia as a garden plant during the 1870s and was first recorded in a nursery catalogue in 1857 (Wills 1999). It proved popular in floral arrangements, in particular bridal bouquets, giving rise to its common name, and also as a plant for hanging baskets (CRC 2003; Wills 1999).

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This database is designed to provide information, including biological and ecological, on invasive plant species that are on a national weed list, or are legislated against in a state or territory. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. For further information on the images contained in the database please contact the copyright owner. All images in the weed identification tool are managed by the Australian Plant Image Index (APII). Various copyright conditions apply for these images. For further information on the copyright conditions of images contained in the database please contact the APII at: photo@anbg.gov.au.