Climbing asparagus is fast becoming one of Auckland’s nastiest weeds, and it could be in your back yard.
Not to be confused with the asparagus spears we like to eat, this fast-growing weed is both a creeper and a climber, known for smothering and strangling host plants and trees.
Auckland Council biosecurity senior advisor Holly Cox has some expert advice on how to spot climbing asparagus and how to control it.
"To spot the weed look for fine, fern-like leaves on multi-branched stems,” says Holly.
“It will be even easier to spot in spring, too, as tiny white flowers show from spring to mid-summer, and round berries appear from October to February, ripening from green to an orange-red."
“To control a small infestation, cut the weed back and dig it out, making sure you remove the roots and tubers. For larger infestations a different approach may be needed. If using a herbicide, read the label thoroughly and make sure all instructions and safety requirements are followed.
“Always work in from the edge of your infestation and follow up every six months. If needed, replant treated areas after two to three treatments to establish a dense ground cover and minimise re-invasion.”
The Waitakere Ranges Local Board has declared climbing asparagus enemy number one and is determined to fight the destructive pest.
The board is funding a project and working with Ecomatters and Auckland Council biosecurity to target the weed in Piha and Huia through surveys of its range, control at some sites, and education.
More information about how to identify and control this and other environmental weeds can be found on Auckland Council's Plant Search tool.