Balloon vine (Cardiospermum grandiflorum)

Also known as: heart seed vine

Balloon vine is a dense, fast growing vine with distinct, papery, balloon-like fruit. It smothers and kills other plants. Even tall trees can collapse from the weight of balloon vines.

Profile

How does this weed affect you?

Balloon vine is a fast growing vine that forms dense infestations. It:

  • completely smothers other plants limiting their growth or killing them
  • brings down branches and trees which collapse under the weight of the vines
  • reduces food and shelter for native animals
  • harbours pests and diseases.

What does it look like?

Balloon vine is a semi-woody perennial vine with tendrils that help it climb up to 10 m into trees.

Leaves:

The leaves are made up of 3 groups of 3 leaflets with the centre leaflet longer than the rest. The 9 leaflets combined are up to 16 cm long and on a stalk 2-10 cm long. There is often a tendril where it joins the stem.

The individual leaflets are:

  • dark green
  • 2–8 cm long and 1–5 cm wide
  • oval-shaped with pointed tips
  • toothed along the edges
  • hairy, with small red hairs especially on the underside.

Flowers are:

  • white with 4 petals
  • 8–10 mm long
  • in clusters with tendrils at the base of the cluster
  • usually present in spring and summer or throughout the year in some locations.

Fruit are:

  • thin-skinned, papery, balloon-like capsules with 3 compartments, each containing one seed
  • green when immature, turning yellow, then cream when mature
  • 4–8 cm long with pointed tips and 6 ribs
  • covered with stiff hairs.

Seeds are:

  • black
  • round
  • about 7 mm wide.

Stems are:

  • densely hairy when young
  • woody when older
  • cylindrical in cross-section
  • ribbed.

Where is it found?

In NSW. balloon vine grows mostly along the coast from the Queensland border to the Greater Sydney region. Scattered infestations have also been found in the North West, Upper Hunter and South East regions of NSW.

 It is native to tropical Africa, Asia and America.

The weed was probably introduced to Australia as an ornamental garden creeper. The first record in Australia is from a Sydney garden in 1923.

What type of environment does it grow in?

Balloon vine prefers tropical and sub-tropical climates but can also grow in warm temperate regions. It grows well in moist, well-drained soil and is often found on alluvial loam. It can tolerate a wide variety of soil types.

It grows best in full sun but can tolerate partial shade. Balloon vine usually grows along waterways including gullies, creek lines, riverbanks and the edges of mangrove swamps, and can tolerate some flooding. It has also been found along rainforest edges, in gardens, along roadsides and open forests.

How does it spread?

By Seed

Most balloon vine spread is by seed. The seeds sprout above the ground rather than in the soil. They can remain viable for up to two years if they remain moist. Viability is lost when they dry out.

The fruit can float and remain viable in freshwater or seawater for at least 6 months. Seeds are also spread by the wind and by people dumping garden waste.

By plant parts

Balloon vine can regrow from root fragments, which can be spread in dumped garden waste.

References

CABI (2020). Cardiospermum grandiflorum (balloon vine). In: Invasive Species Compendium. Wallingford, UK: CAB International. Retrieved 15 June 2021 from: https://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/112965

Carroll, S. P., Mathieson, M., & Loye, J. E. (2005). Invasion history and ecology of the environmental weed balloon vine, Cardiospermum grandiflorum Swartz, in Australia. Plant Protection Quarterly, 20(4), 140.

Gildenhuys, E., Ellis, A. G., Carroll, S. P., & Le Roux, J. J. (2013). The ecology, biogeography, history and future of two globally important weeds: Cardiospermum halicacabum Linn. and C. grandiflorum Sw.

Muyt, A. (2001). Bush invaders of South-East Australia: a guide to the identification and control of environmental weeds found in South-East Australia. RG and FJ Richardson.

PlantNET (The NSW Plant Information Network System). Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, Sydney. Retrieved 15 June 2021 from: https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Cardiospermum~grandiflorum

Weckerle, C. S., & Rutishauser, R. (2005). Gynoecium, fruit and seed structure of Paullinieae (Sapindaceae). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 147(2), 159-189.

More information

back to top

Control

Successful weed control requires follow up after the initial efforts. This means looking for and killing regrowth or new seedlings. Using a combination of control methods is usually more successful. Key points include trying to control the plant before it flowers and checking and removing new seedling as they emerge.

Physical removal

By hand

When: Year-round

Follow up: With chemical control or regular hand weeding

Manual removal is best for small infestations. If the balloon vines are climbing over other desirable plants, cut them and leave the top part of the vine to die. Pull or dig out all of the roots as plants often regrow from root fragments.

Chemical control

Spot spraying

For plants growing below knee high, apply herbicide to cover all of the foliage to the point of visible wetness. If plants are climbing up desirable plants, carefully remove the vine and place it onto the ground before spraying with herbicide. For infestations growing into the canopy, cut the vine at head height, lay the stems of the plant on the ground and spray any foliage remaining. If there is no foliage on the lower parts of the stem, either scrape and paint the stems or wait until the stems reshoot before spraying them.

Scrape and paint

Cut the plant at head height and scrape the entire length of the stem to expose the green layer beneath the bark. Apply herbicide to the scraped areas within 15 seconds.

Cut stump method

Cut large trunks or stems as close to the ground as possible and apply herbicide to the stump within 15 seconds.

Herbicide options

WARNING - ALWAYS READ THE LABEL
Users of agricultural or veterinary chemical products must always read the label and any permit, before using the product, and strictly comply with the directions on the label and the conditions of any permit. Users are not absolved from compliance with the directions on the label or the conditions of the permit by reason of any statement made or not made in this information. To view permits or product labels go to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority website www.apvma.gov.au

See Using herbicides for more information.


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Various products)
Rate: 200 mL per 10 L of water
Comments: Spot spray. Spray regrowth up to 0.5 m tall.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: 9 (previously group M), Inhibition of 5-enolpyruvyl shikimate-3 phosphate synthase (EPSP inhibition)
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Various products)
Rate: 1 part glyphosate to 1.5 parts water
Comments: Cut stump. Retreatment may be necessary.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: 9 (previously group M), Inhibition of 5-enolpyruvyl shikimate-3 phosphate synthase (EPSP inhibition)
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L with Metsulfuron-methyl 600 g/kg (Various products)
Rate: 200 mL of glyphosate plus 1.5 g of metsulfuron-methyl in 10 L of water
Comments: Spot spray application.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: 9 (previously group M), Inhibition of 5-enolpyruvyl shikimate-3 phosphate synthase (EPSP inhibition)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Picloram 44.7 g/L + Aminopyralid 4.47 g/L (Vigilant II ®)
Rate: Undiluted
Comments: Cut stump application. Apply a 3–5 mm layer of gel for stems less than 20 mm. Apply 5 mm layer on stems above 20 mm .
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: 4 (previously group I), Disruptors of plant cell growth (Auxin mimics)
Resistance risk: Moderate


back to top

Biosecurity duty

The content provided here is for information purposes only and is taken from the Biosecurity Act 2015 and its subordinate legislation, and the Regional Strategic Weed Management Plans (published by each Local Land Services region in NSW). It describes the state and regional priorities for weeds in New South Wales, Australia.

Area Duty
All of NSW General Biosecurity Duty
All pest plants are regulated with a general biosecurity duty to prevent, eliminate or minimise any biosecurity risk they may pose. Any person who deals with any plant, who knows (or ought to know) of any biosecurity risk, has a duty to ensure the risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable.

back to top


For technical advice and assistance with identification please contact your local council weeds officer.

Reviewed 2024