Chinese violet (Asystasia gangetica subsp. micrantha)

If you see this plant call your local council weeds officer or the NSW DPI Biosecurity Helpline 1800 680 244.

Chinese violet is a fast growing creeper with white flowers. It can smother native plants, horticultural crops, gardens and lawns.

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How does this weed affect you?

Chinese violet can:

  • smother and outcompete native plants
  • reduce food and shelter for native animals
  • compete with crops (e.g. soybeans, vegetables, tea trees and cut flowers)
  • smother garden plants and lawns.

What does it look like?

Chinese violet is a fast growing perennial creeper that forms sprawling mats. It normally grows to 1 m high. However, if climbing over vegetation, it can reach 3 m in height. Vines may die back after releasing their seeds.

Leaves are:

  • bright green
  • paler underneath than on top
  • covered in scattered hairs
  • oval or triangular
  • 2.5 –16.5 cm long and 0.5 –5.5 cm wide.
  • in opposite pairs along the stems.

Flowers are:

  • bell-shaped
  • white with 2 distinctive purple blotches on one of the five lobes
  • 2 –3 cm long and 3 cm wide
  • present year-round in warm conditions.

 Fruit are:

  • green when young and brown when mature
  • 2.5 –3 cm long
  • guitar-shaped with a pointed beak (with the neck of guitar attached to stem)
  • split open when ripe releasing 4 seeds
  • present year-round in warm conditions.

Seeds are:

  • flattened
  • 5mm long and 1 mm wide
  • cream, brown or black

 Stems are:

  • covered in scattered hairs
  • up to 130 cm long.

Similar looking plants

There is another cultivated subspecies of Chinese violet (Asystasia gangetica subspecies gangetica). It has lavender-pink flowers and is a weed in North Queensland and in the Northern Territory.

Where is it found?

In NSW, there are infestations in the Hunter and North Coast Regions. This includes Port Stephens, Newcastle, and isolated sites at Hat Head, near Murwillumbah and Port Macquarie. These infestations are currently subject to destruction programs as required under the Chinese Violet Control Order. There are no other infestations currently known in NSW. A significant infestation is present at Currumbin on the Gold Coast, where Chinese Violet is not regulated in QLD.

Chinese violet is native to India, the Malay Peninsula and Africa. It is a major weed in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Pacific islands. Chinese violet was first recorded in NSW in 1999.

What type of environment does it grow in?

Chinese violet grows in tropical and subtropical areas. Most infestations in NSW have been in sandy soils but it can tolerate a wide variety of soil types including soils with low nutrients. It can grow in full sun or part shade but becomes spindly in deep shade. Frost kills the vines, and regrowth appears in spring from surviving roots.

It has been found growing in urban gardens, along fence lines, along roadsides and in bushland.

Maps and records

  • Recorded presence of Chinese violet during property inspections (Map: Biosecurity Information System - Weeds, 2017-2022)
    These records are made by authorised officers during property inspections under the Biosecurity Act 2015. Officers record the presence of priority weeds in their council area and provide this to the NSW Department of Primary Industries. Records reflect the presence of the weed on the date of inspection.

  • Estimated distribution of Chinese violet in NSW (Map: NSW Noxious Weed Local Control Authorities, 2010)
    Map shows weed distribution and density estimated by local council weeds officers in 2010.

How does it spread?

By seed

Chinese violet can produce seeds as soon as 10 weeks after germinating. Drying fruit capsules split open and expel the seeds one to two metres from the parent plant. Seed may be spread in contaminated soil.

By plant parts

Small fragments of stems can take root at each node when they come into contact with moist soil. Most infestations in Australia started from dumped garden waste or garden escapees. Plant parts can also be moved by earth moving machinery, slashers and mowers and vehicles

References

CRC for Australian Weed Management (2003). Chinese violet Weed Management Guide. CRC for Australian Weed Management, Adelaide, South Australia. 

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

Sahid, I. B., & Shukor Juraimi, A. (1998). Effects of water stress, shading and clipping on growth and development of Asystasia gangetica. Plant Protection Quarterly, 13, 140-142.

Samedani, B., Juraimi, A. S., Anwar, M. P., Rafii, M. Y., Sheikh Awadz, S. H., & Anuar, A. R. (2013). Competitive interaction of Axonopus compressus and Asystasia gangetica under contrasting sunlight intensity. The Scientific World Journal, 2013.

Westaway, J. O., Alford, L., Chandler, G., & Schmid, M. (2016). 'Asystasia gangetica'subsp.'micrantha', a new record of an exotic plant in the Northern Territory. Northern Territory Naturalist, 27, 29.

More information

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Control

Contact your local weeds officer if you think you’ve found Chinese violet. They can help identify, control and remove this weed. Inappropriate control methods can make infestations worse.

Early detection and eradication will prevent Chinese violet from spreading.

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 13678 Expires 30/09/2022
MCPA 150 g/L + Dicamba 25 g/L (Yates Lawn Weedkiller Bindii & Clover Concentrate)
Rate: 30 mL in 10 L water per 20 square metres
Comments: For use in home gardens. Spot spray application. Apply to actively growing weeds before viable seed is present on the plant.
Withholding period: Do not graze or cut for stock food for 7 days after application
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 13678 Expires 30/09/2022
MCPA 340 g/L + Dicamba 80 g/L (Kamba® M)
Rate: 100 mL per 15 L of water per 150 square metres (1 L per 10 square metres)
Comments: For use on roadsides and turfed recreation areas. Spot spray application. Apply to actively growing weeds before seed set on the plants.
Withholding period: Do not graze or cut for stock food for 7 days after application.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


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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 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.
All of NSW Control Order
Owners and occupiers of land on which there is Chinese violet must notify the local control authority for the area if the Chinese violet is part of a new infestation on the land, destroy all Chinese violet on the land ensuring that subsequent generations of Chinese violet are destroyed; and keep the land free of Chinese violet. A person who deals with a carrier of Chinese violet must ensure the plant (and any seed and propagules) is not moved from the land; and immediately notify the local control authority of the presence of the plant on the land, or on or in a carrier.

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For technical advice and assistance with identification please contact your local council weeds officer.
For further information call the NSW DPI Biosecurity Helpline on 1800 680 244 or send an email to weeds@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Reviewed 2021