Cats Claw Creeper

(Also known as Cat’s Claw Creeper)

Dolichandra unguis-cati syn. Macfadyena unguis-cati

Family: Bignoniaceae

Type of weed:

Flower colour(s): ,

Priority Weed State Priority Weed. (See more weeds of the class.)

Flowering Months: , ,


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.


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.


. 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.


  • Hand remove
  • Spray
  • Stem inject or frill
  • Scrape and paint

Manual control

Hand remove

Take hold of one runner and gently pull it along the ground towards you. Check points of resistance where fibrous roots grow from the nodes. Cut roots with a knife or dig out with a trowel and continue to follow the runner. The major root systems need to be removed manually or scrape/cut and painted with herbicide. Bag any reproductive parts.

Chemical control

Note: Herbicides that may be used for this weed include Glyphosate.


Please consult the Herbicide page of this website to help you decide whether to spray, how to do it safely and more.

Stem injection or frilling

Stem injection
Drilling holes at 45° and squirting poison into holes
Apply poison immediately after drilling

At the base of the tree, drill holes at a 45° angle into the sapwood (just under the outer bark) at two finger space intervals around the entire base of the tree. Repeat this process below the lowest branch


As an alternative to drilling, make cuts into the sapwood with a chisel or axe. Fill each cut/hole with herbicide immediately. Repeat the process at 3 cm intervals around the tree.


Plants should be healthy and actively growing. Deciduous plants should be treated in spring and autumn when leaves are fully formed. For multi-stemmed plants, inject or chip below the lowest branch or treat each stem individually. Herbicide must be injected immediately before the plant cells close (within 30 seconds before translocation of herbicide ceases.)

Scrape and paint

Using knife to scrape long gashes along stem
Scrape bark/outer layer away with a knife

With a knife, scrape up to a metre of the stem to reach the layer below the bark/outer layer. Immediately apply herbicide along the length of the scrape.

  • A maximum of half the stem diameter should be scraped. Do not ringbark.
  • Larger stems (over 1 cm in diameter) should have two scrapes opposite each other.
  • Vines can be left hanging in trees after treatment.

Specific control tips for this weed

  • 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 key points on these techniques:

State Priority Weed

Control measures:

  • The plant must be eradicated from the land and be kept fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed; and the land must be kept free of the plant.
  • If the weed is part of a new infestation of the weed on the land, notify the local control authority as soon as practicable.