Madeira vine (Anredera cordifolia)

Also known as: lamb's tails

Madeira vine is an invasive climbing vine with fleshy heart-shaped leaves and aerial tubers. It smothers other vegetation including the canopy of tall trees.

Profile

How does this weed affect you?

Madeira vine grows very quickly and it can: 

  • smother and kill plants from ground covers to tall trees
  • cause branches and trees to fall due to the weight of the aerial tubers
  • reduce food and habitat for native animals
  • invade crops such as sugarcane
  • cause ill health if eaten by livestock.

Madeira vine is one of the invasive vines listed as a Key Threatening Process in NSW. It threatens three endangered species of plants and three Endangered Ecological Communities.

Livestock Health

Eating madeira vine leaves can cause temporary diarrhea in pigs and sheep. The effects on other livestock are not well researched. Sudden deaths have been reported, but not proven to be the result of madeira poisoning. 

What does it look like?

Madeira vine is a perennial twining vine. It flowers in late summer and autumn.

Leaves are:

  • bright green
  • fleshy
  • heart-shaped
  • 2–15 cm long and 2–10 cm wide
  • hairless and sometimes glossy
  • on stalks 5–15 mm long
  • alternate along the stem.

Flowers are:

  • white or cream
  • starshaped with 5 petals
  • up to 6 mm long
  • fragrant
  • clustered on drooping flower spikes 6–30 cm long growing from the upper leaf axils.

Stems:

  • are up to 20 m long
  • are green or red green when young and brown when older
  • have aerial tubers.

Aerial tubers are:

  • light-brown or green
  • potato-like and warty
  • 10–30 mm long
  • at the nodes.

Roots:

The roots also have tubers and these can be up to 20 cm in diameter.

Where is it found?

Madeira vine mostly grows in coastal areas of NSW with summer rainfall. However, it is spreading into dryer inland areas including the North West and Central West of NSW.

It is native to South America.

What type of environment does it grow in?

Madeira vine grows in sub-tropical and warm temperate areas. It grows best in full sun or partial shade but is also tolerant of dense shade. It often establishes on the margins of rainforests and on the edges of waterways. It is partly salt-tolerant and can grow over mangroves.

Maps and records

  • Recorded presence of Madeira vine during property inspections (Map: Biosecurity Information System - Weeds, 2017-2021)
    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 Madeira vine 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 plant parts

Madeira vine can grow from tubers, stems or leaves. Mature plants produce thousands of tubers both along the stems and underground. There can be up to 1500 fallen aerial tubers per square meter under dense infestations. Small tubers fall to the ground as the vines mature and they can remain viable for many years, making control very difficult.

Plant parts are spread by water and by people dumping garden waste.

By seeds

Madeira vine rarely produces seeds. In Australia, madeira vines have only produced seeds in Toowoomba in South East Queensland. The seeds could be spread by birds, water and movement of soil. 

References

McKenzie, R. (2020). Australia's poisonous plants, fungi and cyanobacteria: A guide to species of medical and veterinary importance. CSIRO PUBLISHING.

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) (2020). Anredera cordifolia (Ten.) Steenis. NSW Flora Online. Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, Sydney. http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Anredera~cordifolia Retrieved 11/05/2020.

Swarbrick, J. T. (1999). Seedling production by Madeira vine (Anredera cordifolia). Plant Protection Quarterly, 14, 38-39.

Vivian-Smith, G., Lawson, B. E., Turnbull, I., & Downey, P. O. (2007). The biology of Australian weeds. 46. Anredera cordifolia (Ten.) Steenis. Plant Protection Quarterly, 22(1), 2.

More information

back to top

Control

Successful weed control relies on 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.

To manage madeira vine:

  • treat isolated plants or sparse populations in areas you want to protect first
  • check for and treat regrowth from tubers and stems
  • avoid damage to native vegetation and other desirable plants
  • encourage the recovery of native vegetation to complete with the weed.

Prevention

Remove any madeira vine in gardens and dispose of all plant parts appropriately.

Disposal

Madeira vine can be composted. Choose compost sites in areas that can easily be inspected and sprayed if needed. Sites should be in flood free areas and not in areas where the plant parts could be easily disturbed or moved. Contact your local council for further advice on disposal.

Physical removal

By hand

Dig up tubers and collect all plant parts for smaller or immature infestation sites. Dispose of tubers, leaves and stems, as they will regrow when in contact with the soil or if they are exposed to any sunlight.

If there is stress on the host plants, cut and pull the madeira vines from the canopy. When pulling the vines aerial tubers easily fall off the stems. Lay tarps or cloths on the ground to collect the aerial tubers to prevent the infestation from spreading. Cut vines can survive in the tree canopy and continue to drop tubers for up to two years. It is important to remove as much plant material as possible.

Biological control

The leaf-feeding beetle Plectonycha correntina has been released in NSW and Queensland. The beetle has established and caused significant damage to madeira vine at many of the release sites.  Both the adult beetles and the larvae feed on the leaves. Leaf-feeding reduces the plant’s ability to photosynthesise and depletes the energy stores in the tubers. Only use the beetles in flood-free and frost-free areas.

To allow the beetles to establish, do not use other control methods on the release sites. For more information about biological control for madeira vine contact your local council weeds officer.

Chemical control

Using chemicals in warmer months will give the best results. Though, a herbicide application during late winter may allow easier access and better control during the following spring and summer months.

Spot spraying

Spraying is suitable for seedlings and for plants growing along the ground, over structures or over other non-desirable plants. Apply herbicide to all foliage to the point of visible wetness.  

If plants do not have tubers and are climbing on desirable plants, pull them off gently and spray them on the ground.  

Foliar spraying may be used after the stems have been treated using scrape and paint techniques. It can also be used as an initial treatment, followed by scrape and paint of remaining living stems.

Follow up by spraying sprouting tubers when they have between 2 and 8 leaves.

Splatter gun

Splatter guns can be used for dense infestations of madeira vine that are difficult to reach. The specialised nozzle produces large droplets. This allows plants up to 10 m away to be sprayed with limited chance of spray drift. Spray small amounts of concentrated herbicide on the weed, taking care not to spray the leaves of native or other desirable plants. It is not necessary to cover all of the foliage.

Stem scraping

This method is suitable for vines of any size and for those with aerial tubers. It is the safest management option in sensitive environments. It is labour intensive, as every vine stem has to be treated individually.

Scrape sections of the vine down to the white fibrous layer and paint the exposed area with concentrated herbicide within 15 seconds.  

Repeat the process as high up the stem as possible. If possible, scrape both sides of the stem. Do not ringbark the stem as this will prevent the herbicide spreading through the plant.

Remove and collect tubers along the stem near where they are to be scraped as they can easily fall off when the vines are being treated.

Cut stump method

Use this method for young vines without aerial tubers. It should only be used on vines with aerial tubers if it is possible to follow up the initial control by treating all of the sprouting tubers that fall to the ground. Tubers may continue to sprout for several years.

Cut stems and apply herbicide to the part of the vine that is attached to the ground and the vines remaining above within 15 seconds of cutting.

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: Undiluted glyphosate
Comments: Stem scraping application.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Various products)
Rate: 100 mL glyphosate per 10 L of water
Comments: Spot spray for seedling control. Add a surfactant.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L with Metsulfuron-methyl 600 g/kg (Various products)
Rate: 200 mL glyphosate plus 1.5 g metsulfuron-methyl in 10 L of water
Comments: Spot spray for seedling control.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 13914 Expires 31/03/2026
Picloram 100 g/L + Triclopyr 300 g/L + Aminopyralid 8 g/L (Grazon Extra®)
Rate: 400 mL in 100 L of water
Comments: Handgun 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


PERMIT 13914 Expires 31/03/2026
Triclopyr 300 g/L + Picloram 100 g/L (Various products)
Rate: 400 mL in 100 L of water
Comments: Handgun application.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Fluroxypyr 200 g/L (Starane™)
Rate: 500 mL in 100 L of water
Comments: Apply at times of active growth. Avoid drift on to desirable plants.
Withholding period: 7 days.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Fluroxypyr 333 g/L (Starane™ Advanced)
Rate: 300 mL in 100 L of water
Comments: Apply at times of active growth. Avoid drift on to desirable plants.
Withholding period: 7 days.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Picloram 44.7 g/kg + Aminopyralid 4.47 g/L (Vigilant II ®)
Rate: Undiluted
Comments: Cut stump/stem injection 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: 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 Prohibition on certain dealings
Must not be imported into the state, sold, bartered, exchanged or offered for sale.
North West Regional Recommended Measure*
Land managers should mitigate the risk of new weeds being introduced to their land. Land managers reduce impacts from the plant on priority assets.
*To see the Regional Strategic Weeds Management Plans containing demonstrated outcomes that fulfil the general biosecurity duty for this weed click here

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 2021