HPWRA Score: 15 High-Risk Family: Asparagaceae
IMPACT: A highly invasive, shade-tolerant perennial plant. Asparagus ferns are very difficult to control once established due to an extensive root structure and the ability to regrow from small parts of roots. The needle-like leaves further complicate control efforts. In Hawaii, asparagus fern spreads from cultivation to invade low-light areas and native forests. It spreads by bird-dispersed seeds and vegetatively by tubers, which sprout far from the main plant. It is often found for sale and prominently displayed in landscaping. Asparagus fern is listed as invasive in 9 countries and is considered one of Hawai‘i’s worst invasive horticultural plants.
Description: Herbaceous perennial with insignificant white flowers that have a sweet smell and are short-lived. The evergreen leaves have short, needle-like leaflets that cascade down. The fruit can be either bright red or white, is pea-sized, and contains one large black seed in each one.
Comments from green industry professionals: “Invasive in my native forest”, “weedy”, “hard to eradicate from my yard”, “awful to remove-thorny above ground and deep underground”, “very invasive and hard to get rid of”, “No clients like this plant from my experience”, “can tolerate roundup spraying”, “The worst of the worst”, and “no safe place for them”