Often known by the name, Sicklethorn, Asparagus falcatus is a variety of asparagus fern. It is a robust creeper, which is covered with thorns and often used as a hedging plant to protect against unwanted visitors.
The leaves of the Sicklethorn grow to around 8cm long and are a sickle shape, which gives the plant its common name. They are dark, shiny green and feature a very prominent vein. It is an evergreen climbing shrub, which will grow to around 7m high. The older stems have hard thorns that help it to grow against other plant species and also serve to protect it against animal invaders. It has attractive white flowers and red berries
The Asparagus falcatus is found naturally in Mozambique and the forests of South Africa. It can also be found in the Canary Islands, Sri Lanka and the Mediterranean. It is a quick growing plant and in its natural forest habitat uses its thorns to grip onto trees and other host plants in order to reach the sunlight through the canopy.
The plant can be grown from cuttings, by division or by planting the seeds of its fruit. As the fruit is well loved by many different birds it can be spread over fairly large areas by this kind of seed dispersal. It grows by sending up tall shoots, which can be up to 7m long from the huge tubers of its base roots. Whilst the stems are soft to begin with, they curl around fences and branches before hardening and hooking into the support with their thorns.
The Asparagus falcatus is part of the Liliaceae (Lily) family. The species is falcatus and the genus is asparagus. Other varieties of this type of plant include the Asparagus setaceus and Asparagus densiflorus ‘sprengeri’.
This plant prefers light or a semi-shaded spot and needs regular watering to keep it in good condition. Its roots are incredibly strong and can easily break a pot so it’s important to re-pot it in plenty of time.
Did You Know?
The stems and leaves of the Asparagus falcatus are an African medicinal herb and are used as a poultice to reduce swelling.