bridal veil

Asparagus declinatus
greenish immature fruit (Photo: Sheldon  Navie)
habit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
close-up of mature fruit showing its black seeds (Photo: Michael  Moerkerk)
habit with tuberous root system (Photo: Michael  Moerkerk)

Fern with long, smooth stems, twining up to 2.5m, leaves are soft, needle-like, grey-green to 20mm long, occurring in groups of 3. Flowers are small, greenish-white, solitary or in pairs on short stalks.
Fruit are spherical or ovoid, up to 8-15mm in diameter and ripen from green to pale bluish-grey or whitish-translucent, containing 2-14 seeds. Roots are a dense mat of fibrous rhizomes, with clusters of thick bulb-like ribbed tubers to 6 cm long; stems arise from the length of the rhizomes.

Common names 
Also known as: asparagus fern, bridal creeper, pale berry asparagus fern, South African creeper,
Flowering time 
Mainly Winter
Native to southern Africa
State declaration 
Category 3 - Must not be distributed or disposed. This means it must not be released into the environment unless the distribution or disposal is authorised in a regulation or under a permit.
Council declaration 
As per State Declaration
Known distribution 

This species is naturalised in some parts of southern Australia. Most populations are located in the coastal areas of south-eastern South Australia (including Kangaroo Island), but it is also naturalised in the coastal districts of south-western Western Australia and in western Victoria. It’s not yet recorded in Queensland


This species is primarily found in coastal environs and urban bushland in temperate regions. It is also a potential weed of open woodlands, closed forests, roadsides, waterways, disturbed sites and waste areas


A creeping or climbing plant (growing up to 2-3 m tall) with short-lived (i.e. annual) twining stems and long-lived (i.e. perennial) underground stems (i.e. rhizomes) and tubers.

Impact and control methods 

It is a highly invasive and aggressive environmental weed that can successfully out-compete and displace native flora. Its dense, underground, tuberous root masses prevent the recruitment and regeneration of native plants and its aboveground stems smother ground-dwelling plants and shrubs. Hence, bridal veil (Asparagus declinatus) has the potential to become a severe threat to biodiversity in heavily infested areas.

Stem and leaves 

The slender twining stems are short-lived (i.e. annual) and die back over summer, after fruit are produced. These stems produce many side-branches that bear numerous small 'leaves' (i.e. cladodes) and have a somewhat fern-like appearance.
The 'leaves' (i.e. cladodes) are actually modified flattened stems that have taken over the appearance and function of leaves. The true leaves are reduced to small bract-like scales at the base of the cladodes. The narrow (i.e. linear), needle-like 'leaves' (5-20 mm long and 0.5-1.5 mm wide) are somewhat greyish-green or bluish-green in colour and grouped in threes along the stems. They are also hairless (i.e. glabrous).

Flowers and fruits 

The small flowers (5-8 mm across) have six 'petals' (i.e. perianth segments or tepals) and six yellow stamens. The 'petals' (i.e. perianth segments or tepals) are white, sometimes with greenish or brownish coloured markings. These flowers are borne singly in the forks (i.e. axils) of the scale leaves, along with a group of three cladodes. flowering occurs mainly during winter (i.e. during July and August).
The fruit is a rounded (i.e. spherical) or egg-shaped (i.e. ovoid) berry (8-15 mm long and about 7 mm wide) that turns from green to pale bluish-grey or whitish in colour when as it matures. These fruit contain 2-14 seeds and are present from later winter through to mid summer (i.e. from August to January). The seeds are black in colour and 2.5-3.5 mm long.

Reproduction and dispersal 

This plant reproduces by seed and also vegetatively via its creeping underground stems (i.e. rhizomes) and tubers.
The seeds are dispersed by birds and other animals, and in dumped garden waste. The creeping underground stems (i.e. rhizomes) and tubers are also spread in dumped garden waste and during soil movement.