Type of weed: Vine or scrambler
Flower colour(s): Cream
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 cream-coloured flower clusters (6–30 cm long) from the leaf axils, in autumn.
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.
- Hand remove
- Scrape and paint
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.
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.
Scrape and paint
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
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 WeedWise website for more info.
For key points on these techniques:
Local Priority Weed
- The plant should be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed.
- Plants under 4 metres in height should be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed.
- The spread of this plant should be adequately contained to prevent spread impacting on priority assets. Weed notices will only be issued for these weeds under special circumstances.