Bridal Creeper (Myrsiphyllum asparagoides)

Bridal Creeper

Family: Asparagaceae

granton2Growth Habit: Bridal Creeper is a woody vine with sharply pointed, glossy green leaves. It has an extensive tuberous root system. The green stems twine around other vegetation for support eventually smothering them. The stem has a zigzag appearance changing its direction at each node and can grow up to 3 m in length. The underground mat of rhizomes and tubers makes up the bulk of the plant.

Type of plant: Climbing, perennial herb.

Bridal Creeper FlowerBridal Creeper FruitFlowers: Flowers in August to September and are greenish-white and occur where the leaves meet the stem.

Fruit/Seeds: Black shiny seed is contained in the ripe, red pea-sized berries. Fruiting occurs October to November.

Dispersal: Bridal Creeper has in the past been planted as an ornamental. In bushland situations it is usually spread by birds feeding on the fruit. Plants can produce more than 1000 berries per square metre. Earth moving equipment may unknowingly move parts of the tuberous roots to other locations. The plant can also spread as the root system slowly expands in area. Dumping of garden waste containing seeds and tubers can also spread the weed.

Distribution: Bridal creeper is found mostly in northern Tasmania, generally occurring in coastal or near coastal environments. The most severe Tasmanian infestations occur in the Tamar Valley, on Flinders Island and on the east coast. Significant but smaller populations of this weed also occur in coastal areas between Devonport and Burnie. But it has huge potential to spread, with much of Tasmania being suitable for this highly noxious weed.

Bridal Creeper is causing some severe problems where it has naturalised in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and parts of the York and Eyre Peninsulas.

Status: Bridal Creeper is a Weed of National Significance and a declared noxious weed in South Australia, New South Wales and Tasmania. This means landholders are required to control it.

Weed Impact:

  • Bridal creeper is an aggressive and highly invasive weed that has serious impacts on the environment.
  • It prefers moist gullies and sheltered positions. In woodlands it can completely smother and therefore dominate the native understorey.
  • Roots form a thick, impenetrable mat, preventing natural regeneration of native plants.
  • Because of its extensive tuberous root system, Bridal Creeper is able to withstand temporarily unsuitable weather conditions and  fire and this also makes it quite difficult to dig out.
  • Any tubers left in the ground will re-shoot.
  • Limits access to beaches, paths and parks.
  • Impacts on the quality and yield of primary industries such as citrus and forestry.
  • Bridal Creeper has been used as an ornamental plant and the foliage as a major constituent in floral arrangements (bridal bouquets) for over 100 years.
  • As a Prohibited Weed, it is illegal to move Bridal Creeper from one place to another in the state.
  • The DPIPWE would like you to ring for advice if you think you may have located Bridal Creeper growing in Tasmania.

Control Methods:

  • If you see Bridal Creeper in your local area report it to your local council as well as DPIPWE.
  • DO NOT plant Bridal Creeper, and replace existing plants with desirable species.
  • Because it is not yet widely naturalised in Tasmania, prompt and early action to remove it whenever it is noticed is the best way to protect our valuable conservation areas and bushland reserves.
  • Bridal Creeper is very tricky to control. Improper practices may actually help spread the plant. Contact DPIWE for specific information in controlling bridal creeper.
  • Grubbing (all year). This is generally only successful with new and/or small infestations. You must ensure all root material is dug up as Bridal Creeper can spread from root fragments.
  • Herbicides have been the most effective method of control. However, because bridal creeper often grows in areas of native vegetation, it is particularly important to avoid contact with desirable plants or soil near tree root zones. Isolated plants can be treated with a recommended herbicide applied by spot spraying. As infestations become larger, a strategically staged approach for removal is advisable to ensure that treated areas are not reinfested.
  • Follow up. Seedlings or regrowth may emerge so ensure you revisit control sites. Seeds are relatively short lived so, provided new plants are not allowed to seed, follow up may be relatively short.
  • Prevent spread. Dispose of the weed appropriately. Don’t dump garden waste in bushland or local reserves.
  • Burning can be used to get rid of above ground material but regrowth will need to be treated carefully with herbicide to limit above-ground growth and further reduce the stored root reserves.
  • Infestations should be monitored regularly and over several years because of the probability of regrowth from remnants of the root system. Regularly check for new incursions, carefully removing them or treating them with herbicide, as necessary.
  • Biocontrol.

For further information on Bridal Creeper look at the Bridal Creeper Management Guide or the WONS Weed Management Guide for Asparagus Weeds or the full WONS Asparagus Best Practice Manual (28MB) contact the Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water and Environment, Tasmania.