Common name: Bridal Creeper, Florist's Smilax
Asparagus asparagoides (L.) Druce APNI*
Synonyms: Myrsiphyllum asparagoides (L.) Willd. APNI*
Description: Climbing herb with annual stems to c. 3 m long; no central crown but with an extensive mat of rhizomes and fbrous and tuberous roots.
Leaves scale-like. Cladodes 1 in each axil, ± ovate, mostly 10–30 mm long and 5–15 mm wide, flattened, glabrous, many-veined.
Flowers 1 or several per axil; pedicels 3–8 mm long, jointed in lower half; tepals 5–6 mm long, white.
Berry more or less globose, 5–19 mm diam., red; seeds 1-many.
Flowering: Winter to early spring; fruits till summer.
Distribution and occurrence: Cultivated as an ornamental; naturalized, especially in the Sydney region, widespread in coastal districts and inland to Moama area. Native of S Afr.
NSW subdivisions: *NC, *CC, *SC, *NWS, *CWS, *SWS, *SWP, *LHI
Other Australian states: *Vic. *S.A. *W.A.
A major weed in southern Australia. Care should be taken when collecting specimens of Bridal Creeper to ensure that samples of the rhizomes and fleshy tubers are collected and/or their arrangement in the ground is noted. The weedy, widespread form has an extensive branching root system, with rhizomes growing parallel to the soil surface, with abundant small tubers arranged spirally along the rhizomes usually at least 10 cm underground. There is another form or possibly separate species from the Western Cape region of South Africa that has the rhizome growing more or less vertically in the soil, with large tubers parallel to the ground surface and packed in a dense compact rosette just under the ground. This Western Cape Bridal Creeper is now known to be present in Australia - at least in SA, and possibly in NSW. It is apparently not susceptible to the rust introduced to control Bridal Creeper. See http://www.weeds.org.au/WoNS/asparagusweeds/docs/Asparagus_Weeds_BPMM-7.pdf and other documents for details about the two forms. Report any occurrences of the Western Cape form to your local weeds authorities.
Text by G.J. Harden (1993); edited KL Wilson (Aug 2008; Nov 2012; Oct 2014).
Taxon concept: Flora of NSW vol. 4 (1993); CA Kleinjan & PB Edwards, South Afr. J. Bot. 65: 23-31 (1999)
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