I'd like to identify this vine, so I can figure out how to kill it. It actually looks kind of pretty, but it's filling a two foot wide gap between my garage and a brick fence, and I'm afraid it's a haven for critters. Because the space is so narrow, it's hard to get into to work. I've tried just pulling it out with my hands, but some pieces are very strong, and I can't break them. I'm hoping there's some chemical I can just pour on to kill it. The vine is completely filling the whole space, which is approximately two feet wide by twenty feet long, and six feet high. It's mostly shaded, and located in Southern California.

I've only been here for a week, but haven't seen any berries or flowers. I don't want to use RoundUp or any other toxic chemicals. Yesterday I wound up going in there and cutting all the stems. Then I poured salt all over the ground, hoping that will stop anything from growing back.

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    With identification questions, it's useful to describe where in the world you found the plant, and the conditions where you found it (sun, shade, rocky hillside, forested riverbank, and so on). If you have more information about the plant, please update your question to add it. Thanks.
    – Niall C.
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 13:33
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    ! What? You poured salt all over the ground? That is way worse than using roundup. Also, in the original question, you said, "I'm hoping there's some chemical I can just pour on to kill it." Then in the edit, "I don't want to use RoundUp or any other toxic chemicals." Please make up your mind.
    – J. Musser
    Commented Jun 12, 2014 at 2:58

1 Answer 1


Looks like Asparagus setaceus, commonly known as Common Asparagus Fern, Lace Fern, Climbing Asparagus, or Ferny Asparagus. This native to South Africa has naturalized and become invasive in many places. The stems may reach 4 yards in length, and are fibrous and tough.

The plant spreads through the poisonous berries, and can quickly fill a large area. It has a deep, aggressive root system of thick, fleshy roots, which hold nutrients and water in case of drought. They also make digging the plant out very difficult, especially as the plant is often found in hard or rocky soil.

I've recently had to dig out some of these at a house where they were being used as a foundation plant. Not fun. You can kill them with Roundup, but don't "pour on". Make sure the plants are not climbing on any trees, shrubs, or other good plants, cutting back the vines if need be.

Spray on a calm (not breezy) day, preferably hot and sunny. Try to spray at least 12 hrs. before rain, but preferably wait until the forecast predicts a few days of good weather. Work your way backwards through the patch, so you don't get herbicide on your clothes or shoes. Spray the plants enough that they are evenly and uniformly wet, but not dripping. Also, spraying the ground/roots is not helpful in killing the plant. Keep all pets and/or children out of the area until the plants are removed.

After the plants have turned yellow/brown all the way to the stem bases, you can cut the vines off at the base and dispose of them. The plants may regrow somewhat, so this may have to be repeated up to three times (but usually only once). Each regrowth is much smaller and weaker than the one before.

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