Native to South America, Madeira vine is a vigorous climber that can produce thousands of aerial tubers along its stem. It is a serious environmental weed that can degrade intact native forests, completely altering the environments it dominates.
Madeira vine is a restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.
Potato vine, lambs tail vine
- Ceylonor Malabar spinach (Basella alba or B. rubra)
- Vigorous climbing vine.
- Leaves are light green, heart-shaped, fleshy, 4-5cm long.
- Flower spikes are 10cm long, with numerous individual small flowers, resembling a lamb's tail.
- Tubers are small, light brown or green, potato-like, growing along stems then falling to ground to sprout.
- Prefers subtropical and warmer temperate areas.
- Found in bushland, edges of rainforests, waterways, disturbed sites, waste areas, parks, gardens and roadsides.
Distribution in Queensland
- Found in coastal and hinterland areas of central and South East Queensland and around Cairns and Atherton Tableland.
- Produces dense blankets of creamy flower spikes December-April.
- Native animals
- Madeira vine is a serious environmental weed that can degrade intact native forests, completely altering environments it dominates (transformer species).
- Smothers trees, shrubs and understorey species.
- Can cause canopy collapse of mature trees due to weight of vine.
- Can grow as a ground cover, disrupting native seedling germination and growth.
Economic and social
- Madeira vine adds to infrastructure damage during floods by destabilising banks and creating increased resistance for floodwater, which can uproot trees.
- Destruction of riverside vegetation by Madeira vine has led to increased bank erosion and water turbidity issues – affecting water catchment regions.
How it is spread
- Spread by aerial tubers and sections of severed stem (seed production is rare in Australia).
- Avoid pulling vines from host trees, as disturbance may bring down dead tree branches and cause aerial tubers to fall.
- Aerial tubers and immature plants can be carefully collected from soil surface surrounding infestations.
- Dig up underground root systems and subterranean tubers; however, in large infestations (particularly in natural systems) excessive soil disturbance should be avoided.
- Tubers may remain viable for several years. It is important to dispose of them appropriately. Small quantities can be frozen or 'cooked' in a microwave to stop them re-shooting. For large quantities, compost on site in an isolated area where regrowth can easily be foliar sprayed; or double-bag in non-biodegradable plastic bags and dispose of in general waste for deep burial.
- Do not dispose of vines or tubers in green waste as this will spread the weed.
- Treat using scrape and paint application of herbicides, or foliar applied herbicides (where applicable).
See the Madeira vine fact sheet (PDF, 1.0MB) for herbicide control guidelines and application rates.
- Leaf feeding beetle Plectonycha correntina was first released in Queensland in 2011.
- Further releases of this beetle continue to be made in Queensland and New South Wales.
- Both adult and larval stages feed on the leaves of madeira vine causing leaf damage and defoliation, and reducing the plant´s capacity to produce and store energy.
- Madeira vine is a restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.
- It must not be given away, sold, or released into the environment without a permit.
- The Act requires everyone to take all reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risks associated with invasive plants and animals under their control. This is called a general biosecurity obligation (GBO).
- At a local level, each local government must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants and animals in its area. This plan may include actions to be taken on certain species. Some of these actions may be required under local laws. Contact your local government for more information.
- Last updated
- 12 October 2016