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Products > Asparagus densiflorus 'Myers'
 
Asparagus densiflorus 'Myers' - Foxtail Fern
  

[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Perennial
Family: Asparagaceae (~Liliaceae)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: White
Bloomtime: Spring
Synonyms: [Protasparagus densiflorus 'Myersi']
Height: 1-2 feet
Width: 1-2 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Deer Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
Asparagus densiflorus 'Myers' (Foxtail Fern) - An evergreen perennial to 2 feet tall by about 4 feet wide with light green needle-like leaves that clothe upright plum-like stems likened to spears or "rabbit ears". These spear-like stems arise from white fleshy tubers just below the soil surface and can reach upwards to 2 to 3 feet long and radiate outwards from the center of the plant to give an overall appearance of a fluffy mound. Tiny white flowers appear tight inside the leaves in mid-summer followed by green berries that ripen decoratively to red by fall. Many Asparagus species are thorny and while this species does have thorns, they are small and hardly noticeable. Plant in full coastal sun to light shade in about any type of soil with moderate to only occasional irrigation - though lush looking, this is a pretty drought tolerant plant and it is hardy to 20 F so useful in USDA zones 9-10. A fun and attractive plant in the garden - great for mass plantings or container planting and can even be grown as a house plant though it has been included in poisonous plant lists because the berries are considered to be mildly toxic and the sap can cause short duration dermatitis. It is native to southern Africa where it grows in coastal areas in the southeastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal and further to north in Mozambique. The name for the genus originates from the original Greek word 'asparagos' that was given to the cultivated asparagus. The specific epithet 'densiflorus' refers to the way the small flowers are densely packed along the stem. The cultivars 'Myers' and 'Spengeri' both were considered to be of this species but more recently have been separated with 'Spengeri' now listed as a cultivar of A. aethiopicus. For this reason when this plant was first introduced it was called Asparagus sprengeri 'Compacta', A. 'Sprengeri Compacta' or A. sarmentosus 'Compacta'. It has been in cultivation in the US since the early 1900's and is also sometimes listed as Asparagus densiflorus 'Myersii', Meyers, or 'Meyersii'. The spelling 'Myers' is listed in Cornell University's Hortus Third and in their 1979 Annotated Checklist of Woody Ornamental Plants the authors, Dr. Elizabeth McClintock (UC Berkeley Dept of Botany) and Dr. Andrew Leiser (UC Davis Dept of Botany) list Asparagus densiflora 'Myers' as the correct name of this plant and cross reference the cultivar names 'Meyers' and 'Meyersii' as synonyms. It was under the name 'Myersii' that this plant received the coveted Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit in 1993. There are reports on the internet that this plant was named for USDA explorer Frank Nicholas Meyer (1875 - 1918), who traveled to Asia to collect new plant species and most famous for the introduction of the Meyer Lemon. Meyer did indeed import some Asparagus species but we have not been able to validate the link to this plant. If it was named for him, the name 'Meyer' or perhaps 'Meyeri' (since the name preceded naming conventions that would disallow using a Latinized name for a cultivar) would be correct. Other common names include Myer's Asparagus, Cat's Tail Asparagus, Basket Asparagus, Emerald Fern, Foxtail Fern and Asparagus fern though it is obviously not a true fern.  This description is based on our research and observations of this plant as it grows in containers at our nursery, in our own garden and in other gardens. We also appreciate receiving feedback of any kind from those who have additional information about this plant, particularly if they disagree with what we have written or have additional cultural tips that would aid others growing Asparagus densiflorus 'Myers' .