Rubber vine (Cryptostegia grandiflora)

PROHIBITED MATTER: If you see this plant report it. Call the NSW DPI Biosecurity Helpline 1800 680 244

Rubber vine is a many-stemmed shrub that can climb 30 m into tree canopies or grow to an unsupported height of 3 m. All parts of the plant are poisonous to livestock and people.

Profile

How does this weed affect you?

Rubber vine:

  • forms dense thickets
  • smothers and kills other plants
  • invades pastures, waterways and natural areas
  • makes livestock movement and mustering difficult
  • can reduce native plant and animal life
  • can reduce water quality of streams.
 Human health
  • Sap from the plant irritates skin and can cause burning, rashes and blisters.
  • Dust from dried plants can cause irritation to the throat, nose and eyes.
  • All parts of the plant are poisonous if eaten.

What to do if a person is poisoned:

  • If the patient is unconscious, unresponsive or having difficulty breathing dial 000 or get to the emergency section of a hospital immediately.
  • If the patient is conscious and responsive call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 or your doctor.
  • If going to a hospital take a piece of the plant for identification.
Livestock poisoning

All parts of rubber vine plants are poisonous to livestock including cattle, sheep, goats and horses. Grazing livestock rarely eat much rubber vine except when other feed is scarce. Animals have died from eating feed in areas where dry rubber vine leaves has fallen on the ground. 

Rubber vine contains cardiac glycosides. These compounds affect the heart, brain and gut. Cattle that eat a small amount of rubber vine may die from heart failure after vigorous excercise (e.g. mustering). The most common symptom is diarrhoea usually with blood present.

What does it look like?

Rubber vine is a many-stemmed shrub that scrambles high into tree canopies or grows to 3 m tall unsupported. 

Leaves are:

  • dark green
  • glossy
  • oval-shaped with tapered ends and a pointed tip
  • with a red or purplish midvein
  • 6–10 cm long
  • 3–5 cm wide
  • in pairs.

Flowers are:

  • trumpet-shaped
  • up to 5 cm long and wide
  • with five light-purple, pink or white petals
  • present all year but mostly in summer.

Seed pods are:

  • rigid 
  • up to 12 cm long and 4 cm wide
  • usually in pairs at the end of short stalks
  • sometimes present as single pods and less often as triple pods
  • usually present between December and April.

Seeds are:

  • brown
  • flat 
  • with a tuft of long, white, silky hairs at one end
  • in groups of 340–840 seeds inside each pod.

Stems are:

  • greyish brown 
  • smooth
  • dotted with small pores
  • filled with milky sap that seeps out when stems are broken
  • of two types:
    • branched with many leaves, up to 2 m long
    • unbranched ‘whips’ with fewer leaves that help the plant climb onto nearby vegetation, 3 - 8 m long.

Roots are:

  • up to 12 meters deep. 

Where is it found?

Rubber vine has been found and eradicated from sites in north west NSW. It was found growing around an old homestead.

Rubber vine is native to southwestern Madagascar. It now grows throughout East Africa, Southeast Asia, the United States and Central and Southern America.

It was planted in the 1860s in northern Queensland mining town gardens. By 1917 there were reports of infestations. During the Second World War it was cultivated as a potential source of rubber.  It has spread through many parts of Queensland including the south of Cape York, Gulf of Carpentaria, along the coast south to Bundeberg and as far west as the Northern Territory border. 

What type of environment does it grow in?

Rubber vine grows on all soil types. It is more likely to germinate on soils that retain moisture. 

Maps and records

  • Recorded presence of Rubber vine during property inspections (Map: Biosecurity Information System - Weeds, 2017-2020)
    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.

How does it spread?

By seed

Seeds are spread short distances by wind and longer distances by water. Seed pods float, helping spread seed along waterways. Seeds can also spread attached to animal fur and in soil or mud on machinery.

Rubber vine can spread quickly because:

  • a hectare of rubber vine can produce millions of seeds each year
  • 95% of these seeds are viable
  • seeds can remain viable for more than a month within the seed pod, even when the pods are floating in saltwater

If conditions are too dry, most seeds will die after one year.

More information

back to top

Control

Please do not attempt to treat or dispose of this weed yourself. Report this plant if you see it anywhere in NSW by calling the helpline listed at the top of this page immediately. 

NSW DPI will lead an initial response for the treatment and disposal of the plant to stop it from spreading.

Chemical control

Spraying and basal bark applications can be used to control rubber vine. Contact the hotline and assistance will be provided to eradicate this weed.

Biological control

Currently the aim is to eradicate all rubber vine in NSW so there is no need to release biocontrol agents, which only help to contain weeds.

Two biological control agents have been released in Queensland where rubber vine is widespread:

  • rubber vine rust Maravalia cryptostegiae
  • a moth Euclasta whalleyi

Both biocontrol agents cause leaf damage, reduced flowering, less seed pods and death in some rubber vine plants.  The caterpillars of the moth feed on the leaves between March and October. The rust causes leaves to turn yellow and drop off, mostly in the wet season. These agents have spread in Queensland where there are heavy infestations of rubber vine.

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.


Metsulfuron-methyl 600 g/kg (Brush-off®)
Rate: 15 g per 100 L of water
Comments: Hand gun application. Do not apply to bushes more than 3 m tall. Apply October to April, ensuring thorough spray coverage of all foliage.
Withholding period: Nil (recommended not to graze for 7 days before treatment and for 7 days after treatment to allow adequate chemical uptake in target weeds).
Herbicide group: B, Inhibitors of acetolactate synthase (ALS inhibitors)
Resistance risk: High


Picloram 100 g/L + Triclopyr 300 g/L + Aminopyralid 8 g/L (Grazon Extra®)
Rate: 350 or 500 mL in 100 L of water
Comments: Hand gun application
Withholding period: Where product is used to control woody weeds in pastures there is a restriction of 12 weeks for use of treated pastures for making hay and silage; using hay or other plant material for compost, mulch or mushroom substrate; or using animal waste from animals grazing on treated pastures for compost, mulching, or spreading on pasture/crops.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Triclopyr 240 g/L + Picloram 120 g/L (Access™ )
Rate: 1.0 L per 60 L of diesel
Comments: Basal bark and cut stump application.
Withholding period: Nil
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Triclopyr 600 g/L (Garlon® 600)
Rate: 1.0 L per 60 L of diesel
Comments: Basal bark and cut stump application.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
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 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 Prohibited Matter
A person who deals with prohibited matter or a carrier of prohibited matter is guilty of an offence. A person who becomes aware of or suspects the presence of prohibited matter must immediately notify the Department of Primary Industries

back to top


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 2019