Vines can grow to a large size quickly because they do not need
to develop a self-supporting trunk. Instead, they rely on the
support of other plants. Vines which are environmental weeds can
smother the canopy of even very tall trees, break them off under
the weight and thereby destroy standing forest.
Rubber vine forms tall towers along the Burdekin
River, north Queensland
Photo: Kate O'Donnell
The vine that causes the most problems in Queensland is
Cryptostegia grandiflora — or rubber vine — from
Madagascar. It is believed rubber vine now covers 3,500,000 ha of
Queensland (an area the size of Victoria) and is spreading into the
Northern Territory. It forms huge towers along waterways,
destroying majestic eucalypts and paperbarks and turns beautiful
billabongs into impenetrable tangles of eroded wasteland.
Scientists from both CSIRO and the Queensland Department of
Natural Resources have found that rubber vine is very
fire-sensitive and are using this method to control the plant where
it grows on open plains. The TS–CRC and CSIRO has
completed one research project on using fire to control rubber vine
(see web link below) and a new suite of resarch on weeds in north
Queensland is now under way.
A rust (Maravalia crypostegiae) has been introduced to
slow down the spread of rubber vine by limiting the amount of seed
produced. In areas where rust has been present for a couple of
years the number of seeds produced has dramatically reduced.
Clearing ipomea vines Photo: Greg Calvert
Other vines considered environmental weeds in north Queensland
include a whole suite of ornamentals such as the blue ipomoea
(Ipomoea violacea), Clitoria Clitoria ternatea,
stinking passionfruit (Passiflora foetida), Centro
Centrosema, and the siratro vine (Macroptilium
National Weeds of Significance: Scroll to bottom of page and click on 'Rubbervine'