Blog

Asparagus fern on Lord Howe Island

By: Vanessa Finney, Category: Museullaneous, Date: 14 Apr 2011

The earliest known photo showing the noxious weed Asparagus fern growing on Lord Howe Island in 1923.

Asparagus fern on Lord Howe Island

Anthony Musgrave © Australian Museum

Recent visitor Ian Hutton, Curator from the Lord Howe Island Museum, was pleased to find this photograph showing Asparagus fern growing on the island in 1923. Anecdotally, it had previously been thought that the fern came to the island much later, brought to the island in a bridal bouquet in the 1930s. Declared a noxious weed, the fine-leafed fern is a prime target for the weed eradication programs Friends of Lord Howe Island have run regularly on the island since 1995.


The 1923 photograph was taken by Museum scientist and talented amateur photographer Anthony Musgrave in a year in which  (according to the Annual Report for the year) 'On account of a shortage of funds no extended field work has been attempted this year'. Instead, Musgrave and another dedicated young scientist from the Museum, Gilbert Whitley, took a self-funded 'holiday' to Lord Howe Island to collect insects and spiders which they then presented to the Museum.