Asparagus setaceus

Common asparagus-fern

Nonnative to Florida

Species Overview

Native to: Eastern and South Africa

This fast-growing species is grown for flower arrangements. It is also planted as an ornamntal or used as an indoor potted plant. Common asparagus-fern escaped cultivation and is now frequently found in disturbed sites throughout the state. 


Species Characteristics

  • Family: Asparagaceae
  • Habit: woody climber with fiberous roots; sends out self-twining shoots which will wrap around anything in their reach
  • Leaves: fine, scaled leaves
  • Flowers: single or paired, terminal on ultimate branches
  • Fruit: 4-5 mm diameter, black
  • Distribution in Florida: statewide


Its extensive climbing habit, thorny stems, enlarged storage roots and small black, bird-dispersed berries combine to make this a particularly difficult weed to eradicate. It is adapted to a variety of soils including sandy, loamy, and heavy clay. Common asparagus-fern is not recommended by UF/IFAS. It is considered a species of caution (requires management to prevent escape) throughout all parts of the state by the UF/IFAS Assessment

Control Methods

Preventive Measures

The first step in preventative control of common asparagus-fern is to limit planting and intentional spread of the species. Inform the public to refrain from purchasing, propagating, or planting common asparagus-fern due to it's ability to escape from cultivation and grow aggressively in natural areas. 

A diversity of native plants can provide resiliancy against invasive plants. Coontie (Zamia pumila), dwarf Walter's viburnum (Viburnum obovatum ‘nana’), Atlantic St. John's wort (Hypericum tenuifolium), beach creeper (Ernodea littoralis), seaside heliotrope (Heliotropium curassavicum), and sword fern (Nephroleptis exaltata) are good choices.


Removal of existing plants within the landscape should be practiced and removal should occur before seeds are produced. Care must be exercised to prevent seed spread and dispersal during the removal process. The needle-like leaves complicate control efforts, therefore using gloves and clippers is advised.


Small infestations of common asparagus-fern can be controlled by digging out the roots. Remove the entire crown and underground stem to prevent regrowth. Any regrowth that occurs can be kept under control by regular mowing or digging out.


There are no known biological control agents for common asparagus fern.


There is no herbicide currently registered for control of common asparagus-fern, however dicamba, fluroxypyr, and metsulfuron-methyl have been successfully used to control other Asparagus species.

Learn more about this species

Atlas of Florida Plants

UF/IFAS Assessment of Nonnative Plants in Florida's Natural Areas

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service- Plants Database

Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

View herbarium images from the University of Florida Herbarium Digital Imaging Projects