Cats Claw Creeper

(Also known as Cat's Claw Creeper)

Dolichandra unguis-cati syn. Macfadyena unguis-cati

Family: Bignoniaceae

Type of weed:

Flowering Months: , ,

Description

Perennial woody vine with stems extending for 20 m or more. Plants have tubers and adventitious roots (roots arising from the shoots). Distinctive 3 ‘claws’.

Leaves comprise two egg-shaped to elliptic leaflets.

Flowers are yellow with orange lines in the tube. It flowers in spring.

Fruit contains numerous seeds with membranous wings.

Dispersal

The membranous wings on Cat’s Claw seed aid dispersal, particularly by water and wind. Although seed viability is low, seed production is high. Established plants can reproduce vegetatively from tubers and creeping stems. Detached tubers and cuttings may re-sprout in moist and dry conditions.

Impact on bushland

If left untreated the plant can grow to have very thick stems. Cat’s Claw Creeper smothers trees and produces massive ground cover, outcompeting with native plants and reducing biodiversity.

Distribution

. Lower Mountains – Springwood, Glenbrook, Escarpment (Cumberland Plain and Hawkesbury).

Alternative planting

Native plants

  • Wonga Wonga Vine (Pandorea pandorana)
  • Water Vine (Cissus antarctica)
  • Old Man’s Beard (Clematis aristata)

NB: NOT Clematis cultivars – these can also be environmental weeds.

Council provides a tool, on its Mountain Landscapes website, to help you choose native alternative plantings. Choose your village, soil, vegetation community and the purpose of your planting, and the tool will give you suggestions.

There are native nurseries in several Blue Mountains villages, including Glenbrook, Lawson and Katoomba. Please also ask at your favourite local nursery.

Control

  • Hand pull seedlings if you can remove all the roots and tubers.
  • Scrape and paint/cut and paint with Glyphosate. Use a toothed instrument such as a saw; cut the aerial section approximately 500mm above the ground; scrape extensively above and below the cut and apply herbicide immediately.
  • Drill and inject large stems.
  • Spray with herbicide if there are no native plants nearby. A selective herbicide will ensure native grasses are not killed.

NB: Spraying vines is only effective in limited circumstances where the foliage is dense and not too high. Do not spray high, as the herbicide will be dispersed and miss the target.

For more info

For key points on these techniques: