Type of weed: Climber, scrambler or groundcover
A perennial climbing vine growing over taller plants and trees up to 30 m tall, with fleshy, twining stems that break easily.
Heart-shaped fleshy leaves grow very large, are arranged alternately, are hairless and sometimes glossy in appearance.
Madeira Vine produces masses of drooping flower clusters (6–30 cm long) in autumn which arise from the leaf axils.
The plant is distinguished by greyish-brown or greenish-coloured warty aerial tubers that form at growth nodes along the older stems. Clumps of tubers are also found in the ground. No fruit is produced.
Note: It is poisonous and its sap is a skin irritant.
Don’t confuse with…
The native Snake Vine (Stephania japonica) can look like Madeira Vine, as they both have heart-shaped leaves. Madeira Vine has thick, fleshy leaves which are bright green; Snake Vine leaves have a pale greyish underside to which the stem is attached (rather than the usual attachment at the base of the leaf).
Madeira Vine mainly spreads by producing large numbers of aerial tubers along the stems. They are also spread shorter distances after falling off stems high in the canopy and can be transported downstream in waterways. The tubers are also spread in dumped garden waste and contaminated soil.
Impact on bushland
Madeira Vine is a highly invasive weed that blankets and smothers native vegetation, leading to loss of biodiversity. It can establish under an intact canopy and quickly engulf native species. This reduces light penetration, eventually killing the plants underneath and preventing the germination and regeneration of native plants. The sheer weight of dense infestations can break branches.
Lower Blue Mountains. Up to Lawson, as well as on the Cumberland Plain.
- Guinea Flower (Hibbertia scandent)
- Twining Purple Pea (Hardenbergia violacea)
- Wonga Wonga Vine (Pandorea pandorana)
- Water Vine (Cissus antarctica)
- Five Leaf Water Vine (C. hypoglauca)
- Dusky Coral Pea (Kennedia rubicunda)
- Wombat Berry (Eustrephus latifolius)
- 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.
Total removal is recommended because Maderia Vine quickly reproduces from aerial tubers and also survives by underground tubers. It is very difficult to control.
- When the vine is up a tree, scrape and paint on as many stems as possible, using a serrated wallboard knife. As the plant dies, tubers will fall to the ground and shoot new growth; tarpaulins can be used under the plant to catch these tubers. Note that viable tubers can remain on plants for two years.
- Dig out where plants are young.
- Repeat treatment will be required.
Make sure tubers are removed from the site. Small amounts of tubers (ground and aerial) may be boiled until cooked, when they safe for disposal.
Do pull vines from trees as it will damage native vegetation.
Refer to the NSW Department of Primary Industry’s Noxious and Environmental Weed Control Handbook.