Asparagus asparagoides, commonly known as Bridal creeper, Bridal-veil creeper, Gnarboola, Smilax or Smilax asparagus, is a herbaceous climbing plant of the family Asparagaceae native to tropical and southern Africa. Sometimes grown as an ornamental plant, it has become a serious environmental weed in Australia and New Zealand.
Asparagus asparagoides grows as a herbaceous vine with a scrambling or climbing habit which can reach 3 m (10 ft) in length. It has shiny green leaf-like structures (phylloclades) which are flattened stems rather than true leaves. They measure up to 4 cm long by 2 cm wide. The pendent white flowers appear over winter and spring, from July to September. It is rhizomatous, and bears tubers which reach 6 cm (2.4 in) by 2 cm (1.8 in) in size.
Distribution and habitat
It has become naturalised in parts of southern California.
A. asparagoides is a major weed species in southern Australia and in New Zealand.
It was introduced to Australia from South Africa around 1857, for use as a foliage plant, especially in bridal bouquets (hence the common name). It has escaped into the bush and smothers the native vegetation with the thick foliage and thick underground mat of tubers which restrict root growth of other species. It is recognised as one of the 20 "weeds of national significance". The seeds are readily spread in the droppings of birds, rabbits and foxes, as well as the plant extending its root system. CSIRO have introduced several biological controls in an attempt to reduce the spread and impact of the weed.
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