Asparagus fern (Asparagus aethiopicus)
Asparagus aethiopicus, Sprenger's asparagus, is a plant native to the Cape Provinces and the Northern Provinces of South Africa. Often used as an ornamental plant, it is considered an invasive weed in many locations. Asparagus fern and foxtail fern are common names; however, it is unrelated to true ferns. A. aethiopicus has been confused with A. densiflorus, now regarded as a separate species, so that information about A. aethiopicus will often be found under the name A. densiflorus. The species was originally described by Carl Linnaeus in 1767. The attribution "Sprenger's Asparagus," refers to Carl Ludwig Sprenger who made it popular in Europe as an ornamental plant. Asparagus aethiopicus is a branching perennial herb with tough green aerial stems which are sparsely covered with spines. The leaves are actually leaf-like cladodes, which are 0.8–2 cm long and 0.1-0.2 cm wide, and arise in groups of four or more from the stem. Occurring in spring, the small white or pinkish-white flowers are 0.3-0.5 cm long and arise in clusters off the stem. Flowers are followed in summer by small round berries 0.5 cm in diameter, which bear a black 3 mm diameter seed. Initially green, the berries mature and turn red in the winter. The root system is a mat of fibrous roots with bulbous tubers, from which plants may resprout.