Asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus)

Asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus) is a species of scrambling weed in the family Asparagaceae, native to southeastern coastal regions of South Africa. It is also known as emerald fern, foxtail fern, and basket asparagus.

Asparagus fern is a slightly woody, scrambling plant with erect or trailing branches, up to 1 m long and a spread of 50 cm. The plant has extensive fibrous root system with fairy large tubers, to provide food during long period of drought in summer. It has arching stems which are covered with dark-green, needle-like leaves, 0.8- 2 cm long and 0.1-0.2 cm wide. It can be used as ground covers in shade and in full sun, or planted in large containers or hanging baskets.

Asparagus fern bears small, white or pale pink fragrant flowers, 0.3-0.5 cm long, half hidden by the foliage and do not last long. These are followed by showy, bright red berries, 0.5 cm in diameter. Each berry contains a large black seed, 3 mm in diameter. The berries are attractive to birds, thus helping in spreading them.

Asparagus fern grows in partial shade or bright light, but not direct sun, in fertile, well-drained soil.

The berries can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain if ingested, and contact with the skin can cause dermatitis. Asparagus fern is also toxic to the domestic animals.

Asparagus fern can be propagated by division of tubers or by seed.

Asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus)Asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus)
Author: Frank Vincentz (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)

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