Vine weeds


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, NQ

Rubber vine forms tall towers along the Burdekin River, north Queensland
Photo: Kate O'Donnell

Rubber vine

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

Clearing ipomea vines Photo: Greg Calvert

Other vines

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 atropurpureum).