The sprengeri is not a true fern. It originates from South Africa and is in the asparagus family. It is found in large colonies, displacing native ground cover and understory shrubs. Asparagus fern has also escaped into tropical hammocks in Palm Beach County, choking out young native plants such as wild coffee. It is an evergreen plant with long, leggy branches, tiny scale-like leaves and thorns, making trimming and cultivating painful. Sprengeri is invasive because of its habit of overgrowing its planned parameters. It is used for ornamental purposes as ground cover or container plants. It tolerates full sun, whereas fern, usually, do not.
There is an alternative to this expansive plant. The foxtail fern, (pictured at right) also an asparagus, tolerates full sun to partial shade, has branches that stand up, and no thorns. Their shape resembles a bushy fox tail. The berries of both Sprengeri and Foxtail are poisonous.
Eradication of Sprengeri: 1. For small plots, dig it out. 2. For larger plots, mow to the ground and apply herbicide. 3. For non chemical eradication for larger plots, mow the the ground, wet it, and place clear plastic tarp over the area and allow the sun to bake it 4 to 6 weeks. (works best in summer & in full sun) This method will also eradicate any soil diseases and weed seeds in the plot.