Asparagus macowanii

Asparagus macowanii var. zuluensis.

In Family Asparagaceae s.l. it is also seen as Asparagus retrofractus.
The Ming asparagus fern is commonly known as Pom-pom asparagus.
A garden plant now naturalised in S. E. Queensland it has become an environmental weed.

An evergreen, shrub-like plant 1 to 3 m high.
It can form large clumps and grow over and smother other foliage.
Green stems, growing from roots with tubers, become pale and woody.
Older stems have small, straight or curved spines 5 to 10 mm long.

There are clusters of 20 to 30 or more cladodes (photosynthetic stems) in each axil.
Each smooth, green needle-like cladode is 12 to 25 mm long and around 0.5 mm wide.
The true leaves are reduced to small scales at the base of the cladodes.

Inflorescences are dense axillary clusters of flowers.
The cladodes and inforescences are both roughly spherical and resemble pom poms.
The 6 mm wide bisexual flowers, each on a 3 to 4 mm stalk, are white to cream.

The flowers have 6 flaring cream to white tepals.
The 6 stamens lie opposite the tepals.
Filaments are 2 mm long and hold the orange anthers well above the perianth.
The superior ovary, with 3 locules, has a single style that branches into 3.

The fruit, berries around 8 mm across, change from green to reddish-purple then black.
The shrivelled black fruit hold a single, shiny black seed around 6 mm across.
They can often be found on the plant all year.