Bridal Veil

Asparagus declinatus

Synonyms - Asparagus crispus, Myrsiphyllum crispus

Family: Asparagaceae (was Liliaceae)

Names:

Asparagus is the ancient Greek name for the Asparagus vegetable.
Bridal Veil refers to the use of this plant for floral arrangements at weddings and, in particular, the greenery base for bridal tables, following the tradition of using myrtle for this purpose.

Other Names:

Summary:

Bridal Veil is a scrambling or weakly climbing perennial with annually renewed, wiry stems arising from a tuberous rootstock. The top growth completely dies off over summer in most environments. The stems are slender and spineless. There are 3 'leaves' per axil that are linear, soft, 3-10 mm long and 0.25-0.5 mm wide. The flowers are bisexual and greenish white with petals 5-6 mm long. The berries are egg-shaped, translucent white to blue-grey when ripe and 10 mm long x 7 mm wide.
Native to southern Africa, Bridal Veil is an invasive weed of roadsides and disturbed woodlands with potential to become a serious environmental weed. It flowers in autumn and winter.

Description:

Cotyledons:

One.

Leaves:

True leaves are tiny and scale like at the base of leaf like structures called cladodes.
"Cladodes" look like leaves but actually are flattened, leafless branches that arise from the axil of the branchlet and the scale-like true leaf.
Cladodes (Leaf like structures) - 3 in a single plane in each leaf axil
3-10 mm long x 0.25-0.5 mm wide. Not obviously veined. Cladode sets alternate up the stem. Tip pointed. Sides parallel. Base tapering. Hairless.

Stems:

Many, wiry, slender, sprawling and twining, 500-1000 mm tall.
Many branched. No spines.

Flower head:

Single, axillary on stalks (peduncle) 6-10 mm long that is not jointed.

Flowers:

White to green with 6 petals (tepals). Bisexual. 5-6 mm long and often curved over.
Ovary - Superior. 3 cells. 4 ovules per cell. Simple style that is nearly as long as the perianth. Stigma shortly 3 lobed.
Perianth - 6 spreading segments (tepals).
Stamens - 6. Filaments have 2 basal spurs.
Anthers - Yellow. Open inwards with slits.

Fruit:

Globose, sticky, succulent berry. Initially green turning blue-grey when ripe and may remain on the plant.

Seeds:

Roots:

Fibrous, rhizomatous and with a thick mat of tuberous roots.

Key Characters:

Cladodes in sets of 3.
Annual green stems.
Peduncle not articulated.
Flowers bisexual.
Blue-grey berries.
Adapted from J. Wheeler, J. Moore

Biology:

Life cycle:

Mediterranean areas;
Annual stems with a perennial rootstock.
Seed germinate at any time of year when the soil is moist. The ripe fruit may remain on the plant for some time. The stems are annual and die back over summer after fruiting. Each autumn new growth emerges from the rhizomes.

Physiology:

Tolerates full shade to full sun and grows best in partly shaded areas.
Tolerates drought.

Reproduction:

By seed and rhizomes.

Flowering times:

April-August in WA.
July to August in Perth.
Mainly spring to summer in NSW, fruits all year.
Summer to autumn in SE Australia.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Germination rates of the seed are usually high and there appears to be little dormant seed.

Vegetative Propagules:

Rhizome supported by a mass of tubers.

Hybrids:

Allelopathy:

Ecology, Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Reproduces by both seeds and rhizomes.
The initial spread was mainly due to intentional planting in gardens. This was followed by spread due to the dumping of garden refuse containing the mats of tubers and rhizomes together with seed.
In undisturbed situations, most of the seed falls close to the parent plant. However birds are major contributors to its dispersal. Most new infestations can now be attributed to dispersal by birds. Rabbits and other animals may also spread it in their droppings. Water borne seed dispersal also occurs along creeks with dense germinations occurring at the high water mark where seed is deposited with debris. Once established the size of the infestation increases slowly with seedling establishment at the perimeter of the clump and extension of the rhizome
Local spread can also occur from seed in mud on machinery or sticking to animals and clothing. Rhizomes are spread by road making machinery along roadsides or by cultivating machinery. Seed is spread in water flows and both seed and rhizomes are spread in dumped garden refuse.
It will tolerate moderate shade and can invade relatively undisturbed bushland as well as open woodland areas. It is generally not found in totally cleared areas or healthy bushland.
After invasion, it smothers most species that grow less than 2 metres tall.
The tuber mass competes with germinating plants and inhibits water penetration.
Green fruit will ripen on the vine.
It generally prefers moister and shadier sites than Bridal Creeper.

Origin and History:

Native to Southern Africa.
Invasive in South Australia.
An infestation in Victoria at Hamilton was eradicated in the 1990's.

Distribution:

SA, WA (VIC).
Swan Coastal Plain, Jarrah Forest and Warren regions of WA.

Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium.

Habitats:

Prefers shaded situations but still grows well in full sun.
Often found in coastal locations.

Climate:

Cool temperate, Mediterranean.

Soil:

Sand over limestone, sand over ironstone.

Plant Associations:

Found along roadsides usually associated with habitation.
Eucalyptus woodlands.

Significance:

Beneficial:

Ornamental.

Detrimental:

Weed of roadsides and gardens.
Invasive forming dense mats that exclude most other species and prevent regeneration of overstorey species.
In most situations it has minor impact but could be an environmental weed.

Toxicity:

Not recorded as toxic.

Legislation:

Management and Control:

It does not persist under grazing.
Manual control is very difficult on established infestations but seedlings and juveniles can be pulled successfully if the ground in loosened to ensure the rhizome is removed with the plants. Burn all seed and rhizome fragments.
The following methods have been used by environmental groups:
1) In winter to early spring, apply 1-2 g metsulfuron (600g/kg) per ha plus 25 mL Pulse® Penetrant per 10 L of spray mix with a mister. This can be used as an overall spray in bushland situations and rarely causes significant damage to native species. Try a small area on your set of species to determine if there are sensitive species present. For spot spraying mix 0.1 g metsulfuron (600g/kg) plus 250 mL Pulse® Penetrant in 100 L water and spray foliage until just wet. Results may not be seen until the following season.
2) Slash or Whipper Snip the stems regularly before they form buds. This may take several years to reduce root reserves and achieve control.
3) Dig up, crush and burn the tubers and root system.
4) Manually apply a mix of 1 part glyphosate in 3 parts water to leaves and stems with a sponge glove or paint brush taking care to avoid companion species.
Around 90% control has been achieved with metsulfuron plus glyphosate mixtures. In WA a mix of 1 part glyphosate in 50 parts water plus a marker dye is used on heavy infestations and is considered to be less deleterious to bushland than glyphosate plus chlorsulfuron mixtures.
Glyphosate, metsulfuron, glyphosate/metsulfuron, triclopyr/picloram, 2,4-D/picloram, dicamba, chlorsulfuron, bromacil, thifensulfuron/metsulfuron, tribenuron, ametryn, ametryn/glyphosate, chlorimuron, bromoxynil/MCPA and amitrole are expected to give high levels of control. Fluroxypyr, diflufenican/MCPA, glufosinate, MCPA, 2,2 DPA, imazethapyr, clethodim, fluazifop, 2,4-d/glyphosate, amitrole and asulam are expected to be ineffective.
The best time to apply herbicides is just before flowering at maximum vegetative growth in August to October.
Fire may also be a useful tool. After burning, Bridal Veil is often the first plant to emerge, thus allowing the use of non selective herbicides and assisting access to infestations.
Tuber mats can be scalped with earth moving equipment in open situations.
Large infestations are targeted for control because these produce the most seed for transport by birds.

Eradication strategies:

If possible, open areas up for grazing.
Manual control is very difficult because the tuberous root system must also be removed.
Spray until just wet with 100 mL glyphosate(450g/L) plus 1 g metsulfuron(600g/kg) in 10 L water during winter before flowering.
Repeat annually for 3 years or until the plant disappears.
Grazing or persistent removal of the tops for several years exhausts the tubers. Intense fire can kill some of the tubers and clear the area to allow spraying of the regrowth with the above mix before other species germinate or reshoot.
Burial is not usually effective.
Prevent reinfestation by birds by treating all areas on a district basis.
Replant shrub species.

Herbicide resistance:

None reported.

Biological Control:

Biocontrol agents introduced for Bridal Creeper control have little effect on this species.

Related plants:

See A key for the weedy Asparagus species
Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) is a cultivated vegetable.
Asparagus fern (Asparagus scandens = Myrsiphyllum scandens) has perennial stems that don't die back in summer and has single seeded berries that are orange-red when ripe. There are separate male and female plants.
Baby Smilax or Myrtifolius (Asparagus asparagoides) is a compact dwarf form of Bridal Creeper and sold in nurseries.
Bridal Creeper (Asparagus asparagoides) = Myrsiphyllum asparagoides is an aggressive climber with leaf like phyllodes and red to purple berries.
Bridal veil (Asparagus declinatus = Myrsiphyllum declinatum = Asparagus crispus) has egg shaped berries that are light green ripening to translucent white.
Cutleaf Self-heal (Protasparagus laciniata)
Climbing Asparagus Fern (Asparagus plumosus = Protasparagus plumosus) has perennial shoots with recurved spines.
Ground Asparagus (Asparagus aethiopicus) has thorny stems with creamy white to pink flowers.
Native Asparagus Fern (Protasparagus racemosus)
Self-heal (Protasparagus vulgaris)
Asparagus africanus = Protasparagus africanus is similar to Asparagus plumosus but differs in having orange rather than black mature fruits.
The Asparagaceae family has recently been separated from the Liliaceae family. Asparagaceae is currently considered to have one large variable genus Asparagus with 2 sub genera Asparagus and Myrsiphyllum (Keighery, 1996).

Asparagus species of WA
Current nameStatusOld names 
Asparagus aethiopicus L.
Ground Asparagus
AlienProtasparagus aethiopicusAsparagus densiflorus (misapplied)
Asparagus asparagoides (L.)Druce
Bridal Creeper
AlienMyrsiphyllum asparagoides 
Asparagus declinatus L.
Bridal Veil
AlienMyrsiphyllum declinatumAsparagus crispus
Asparagus officinalis L.
Asparagus
Alien
Vegetable
  
Asparagus plumosus Baker
Climbing Asparagus Fern
AlienProtasparagus plumosus 
Asparagus racemosus Willd.Native to Kimberly area in WA.Protasparagus racemosus 
Asparagus scandens Thunb.
Asparagus Fern
AlienMyrsiphyllum scandens 
Asparagus virgatusAlien.
Not in WA.
Protasparagus virgatus 
Asparagus africanusAlien.
Not in WA.
Protasparagus africanus 

Plants of similar appearance:

Apple-berries (Billardiera species) differ with their more leathery leaves, flowers with 5 sepals and 5 petals and fruits which are hard rather than succulent and usually more or less cylindric in shape.
Lignums (Muehlenbeckia species) differ in having tiny flowers in clusters, each flower with 5 petals.
Slender Clematis (Clematis linearifolia) differs in having opposite leaves which are divided into 3 stalked leaflets and fruitlets in a head (each fruitlet with a long feathery awn).
Small-leaved Clematis (Clematis microphylla)
Native Smilax species
Scrambling Lily (Geitonoplesium cymosum) is a native.
Selliera radicans is not a climber but creeps along the ground with roots at each node. It also has stalked leaves and fan-shaped flowers. It occurs in saline, estuarine areas of the Warren region.
Wombat Berry (Eustrephus latifolius)

References:

Bodkin, F. (1986). Encyclopaedia Botanica. (Angus and Robertson, Australia).

Everist, S.L. (1974). Poisonous Plants of Australia. (Angus and Robertson, Sydney).

Hussey, B.M.J., Keighery, G.J., Cousens, R.D., Dodd, J. and Lloyd, S.G. (2007). Western Weeds. A guide to the weeds of Western Australia. (Second Edition). Plant Protection Society of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia. P12. Photo.

Keighery, Greg (1996). Native, naturalised and cultivated Asparagaceae in Western Australia. Plant Protection Quarterly, 11(2): 49-50.

Lazarides, M. and Cowley, K. and Hohnen, P. (1997). CSIRO handbook of Australian Weeds. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #683.2.

Marchant, N.G., Wheeler, J.R., Rye, B.L., Bennett, E.M., Lander, N.S. and Macfarlane, T.D. (1987). Flora of the Perth Region. (Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Agriculture, Western Australia). P737.

Moore, J.H. and Wheeler, J.R. (2008). Southern Weeds and their Control. (Second Edition). Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia. P150-151. Photos.

Muyt, A. (2001). Bush Invaders of South-East Australia: a guide to the identification and control of environmental weeds found in South East Australia. (R.G and F.J. Richardson, Australia). P125.

Paczkowska, G. and Chapman, A. (2000). The Western Australia flora: a descriptive catalogue. (Wildflower Society of Western Australia (Inc), the Western Australian Herbarium, CALM and the Botanic Gardens & Parks Authority). P36.

Acknowledgments:

Collated by HerbiGuide. Phone 08 98444064 or www.herbiguide.com.au for more information.