Regularly called public enemy number one, climbing asparagus has earned its reputation for being a prolific scrambler/climber that smothers our natives before we have even had a chance to spot it. Waiatarua has a particularly bad climbing asparagus problem. It is spread mainly by birds, particularly blackbirds. You may spot it thanks to its white flowers and round berries (green ripening to orange) at this time-of-year.
Control: Work from the inner bush back toward your home, to stop it from creeping into the forest. If you don’t want to use herbicide, digging out the tubers is the only option. These must be disposed of carefully, burning is a great option, or transfer station. Do not leave them in the bush. However if you have more than a couple of outbreaks, herbicide may be your simplest option: the good news is, at this time of year (spring/summer) you can get away with a light spraying of glyphosate. As these plants are near natives it is important that you do not use a penetrate. Remember to ensure there is no rain predicted, and ensure you do this early enough in the day so the night dew won’t set in. If the infestation has climbed to more than 60cm, cut the plant back to around 30cm and spray as above. You will need to do a respray for any missed plants 1-2 months later. Keeping blackbirds out of your garden may also help. They’re generalists so will come in with any human type food; bread, food scraps etc.
Description: Evergreen with slender leaves and thin wiry stems that wrap around branches or scramble along the ground. Roots are tuberous and at this time of year (Sep-Dec) white flowers may appear with berries (green ripening orange) appearing Oct-Feb.
Really overwhelmed? Reach out to Pest-Free Waiatarua for more help if you have a lot of this pest plant.
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Thanks to Weedbusters for the content and images – Photographer: Carolyn Lewis