Asparagus asparagoides


Asparagus: An old Greek name for this plant possibly derived from a- (an intensifier) and sparasso 'to tear', referring to the prickles of some species

Common Name(s)




Flora Category

Vascular - Exotic

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class

Monocotyledonous Lianes


Terrestrial. Thrives in impoverished soils, bare rock and volcanic soils. Likes good drainage. Coastal areas, open rocklands, shrubland, roadsides, hedges, wastelands, inshore and offshore islands. Plants are typically found under tree canopies which is largely due to bird movement but also reflects greater seedling establishment in leaf litter and better growth in shaded or part-shaded environments.


Scrambling or twining perennial. White, fleshy, tuberous roots in dense clusters. Stems to 3 m, green or slightly woody, twisted, thin and wiry, branched. Leaves are actually cladodes (flattened leaf-like stems), solitary at each node, 10-35 x 4- 15 mm, flat, ovalish, pointed, with approx. 7 veins. Flowers greenish-white, 5-6 mm, July-Aug. Round red berry, 6-10 mm, 2-8 tiny black seeds.

Similar Taxa

Leaf-like cladodes distinguish A. asparagoides from other Asparagus species.


August, September, October

Flower Colours


Year Naturalised



trop & S. Africa

Reason For Introduction

Life Cycle Comments
Winter perennial; in warm regions such as Auckland, the plant can remain in leaf all year. Seeds germinate in autumn or winter, in leaf litter and at soil depths of up to 10cm. Seedlings produce at least one tuber in their first year. New shoots emerge each year in autumn from the perennial root system. The root system eventually grows into an extensive ''mat'' of branching rhizomes and numerous fleshy tubers. The mat is generally 5-10 cm below the soil surface and up to 10cm thick making up most of the plants biomass. Shoots typically emerge from the soil in Autumn. The shoots scramble across the ground and climb shrubs and trees. The stems are twisting, grow up to 3 m in length and branch extensively. Plants take at least 3 years to reach flowering size. Bridal creeper leaves turn yellow and fall, and stems die back in late spring-early summer, as temperatures rise and soils become dry (National Weeds Strategy Report, 2001).

Reproduces from seed and from a short, thick rhizome which produces root tubers.

Most buried seed germinates and the remainder rot within 2 years. However, seeds on the soil surface may be viable for at least 3 years. Compared to other weeds, this species has a short-lived seedbank.

Berries are eaten by birds, and dispersed over long distances. Rhizomes spread along coasts and roadsides by soil and water movement and garden waste.

Shade tolerant, tolerant of all but the wettest soils. Can tolerate a wide range of pH. Fleshy tubers enable tolerance of low light intensities, drought, frosts and saline soils.

This page last updated on 18 Jan 2010