What kind of fern...

Hi folks,
I have a gardenia bush that was "taken over" by a delicate thorny fern I can't identify. It is very bright lime'ish green with soft "bristle" type leaves that grow out from the slender shoots in all directions. (I assume it's a fern but don't actually know.) The "bristle" leaves are less than in inch in length. The shoots grow tiny but very sharp thorns. I was doing some weeding around my gardenia bush and wanted to take this fern out (which came from 'nowhere') because it seemed to be growing out of the very root ball of the gardenia. When I cut back the shoots (some of them a few feet long) and got pliers to try to pull each shoot out by the root, but they just break off at the base of the gardenia, which has a V-shaped branch configuration at the root ball. This fern seems to be imbedded in that V. I can't distinguish it's root ball from the base of the gardenia.
Anyone know what this plant is, or how to get rid of it? Thanks so much for any info!
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Sandy said:

Sounds like /Asparagus densiflorus/.
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Good guess! :) I haven't noticed this plant flowering or getting berries, but maybe it has. It seems less lush than the above plant. Less bushy. It doesn't grow straight up once slender stems get ober 6 inches or so, unless vining into the gardenia using it for support. Otherwise the stems fall outwards. (They're very thin. I'd take a digital picture and post it but I already got rid of the plant! D'oh!) Also, it said this plant has "weak prickles." These prickles aren't weak except maybe on the newest shoots that are still young. But the asparagus densiflorus is close. You could be right. I'm going to look into it more.
Thanks for the feedback. :)
http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/images/low/B578-0120040.jpg
(picture of asparagus densiflorus for anyone interested)
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Sandy said:

You haven't said your location, but in the deep south /A. densiflorus/ is quite a pest. Also, the pic you linked to is of a potted, well cared for plant. What you're seeing invading your garden will most likely not be as lush (although, if it's quite rich soil, it may be). And, it's thorns can be very painful if you get hold of some of the old growth. ;)
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http://images.google.com/images?svnumP&hl=en&lr=lang_en&domains=mobot.org&q=asparagus+fern&btnG=Search
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Thanks again, Eggs. I'm in So. Ca. in the South Bay (beach area southwest of Los Angeles proper). And I think this is the plant after looking at more pictures. :) My problem now is how to get rid of its roots -- or even find its roots! The shoots "dead-end" in the rootball of the gardenia... or so it looks. I'm thinking I might have to dig up the gardenia to see if I can then tell where the AD root ball starts and ends compared to the gardenia root ball. (Obviously I am no gardner. I'm trying to help out my folks while my Dad recovers from chemo. He wanted me to take it out and I was hoping to keep it from coming back so he doesn't have to deal with it again.)
Thanks again for all of your help.
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"Control These plants have a very large root system which includes the rhizome, a mass of fibrous roots and tuberous storage organs. If digging plants out, remove all of the root system only in the smallest plants, as the amount of soil disturbance involved with larger infestations would be unacceptable. When digging it is essential to remove all of the rhizome as plants can re-grow from small fragments left behind. However, it is OK to leave tubers and fibrous roots in the ground. A sharp knife or secateurs can be used for this job. Rhizomes should be disposed of carefully and not left lying in contact with the ground. If plants are fruiting at the time of treatment the fruits should also be disposed of carefully, preferably by burning or deep burial."
Quoted from: http://www.esc.nsw.gov.au/Weeds/Sheets/herbs/H%20Asparagus%20fern.htm
Oh boy. This is gonna be fun. ;)
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Sandy said:

ahyup. Good luck. =)
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LOL. Thanks.
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