Rubber vine

Scientific name: Cryptostegia grandiflora and C. madagascariensis
Declaration status: Class A and Class C.

Rubber vine is a Weed of National Significance.

For more information go to the Weeds of National Significance website.

There are two types of rubber vine in Australia, true rubber vine and ornamental rubber vine.

Rubber vine is native to south-western Madagascar.

It has become weedy in other countries throughout East Africa, South-East Asia, the United States and Central and South America.

It was imported because of its attractive flowers, and because its latex contains substantial quantities of rubber (hence the name).

Rubber vine now occupies an area within Queensland about the size of Victoria, and is spreading to the Northern Territory (NT) at a rate of 1 to 3% per year.

There have been isolated infestations in Western Australia.

It has a potential distribution which could cover all of Northern Queensland, the Top End of the NT and Pilbara regions of Western Australia.

Rubber vine was recently found in an urban garden in Nightcliff. This mature tree was destroyed by Weed Management Branch staff.

The find resulted in a public awareness campaign and to date there have been no other positive identifications of rubber vine.

Impact

Rubber vine may be the worst weed in Australia. Its main impact on pastoralism is the loss of grazing country, which in 1995 was estimated to cost the Queensland beef industry $18 million.

Rubber vine can have all of the following impacts:

  • replaces valuable pastoral land
  • invades rivers and creeks
  • strangles vegetation
  • poisonous to livestock
  • can prevent animals accessing water
  • increases the cost of mustering and fencing
  • inhibits and smothers native vegetation and ecosystems.

Identification

You should use this as a guide. There may be other plants or weeds that look similar.

  • woody, multi-stemmed vine climbing 30m into tree canopies or 1m to 3m as a shrub if unsupported
  • releases a milky sap when broken or cut
  • shiny dark green leaves, opposite pairs 6cm to 10cm long and 3cm to 5cm wide
  • true rubber vine leaf stalk is purplish whereas ornamental rubber vine leaf stalk is not purple
  • flowers are white inside and pink to purple outside, 5 to 6cm long and about 3.5cm wide shaped like a trumpet with five petals
  • seeds form in large pods that grow mostly in pairs
  • true rubber vine pods are up to 15cm long and 4cm wide whereas ornamental rubber vine pods are 7cm to 9cm long and 3cm to 4cm wide
  • contain more than 300 brown seeds.
Rubber vine - habit (ornamental)Rubber vine - leaves (true)Rubber vine - leaves (ornamental)Rubber vine - flower (true)Rubber vine - flowers (ornamental)Rubber vine - seed pods (true)Rubber vine - seed pods (ornamental)Rubber vine - seeds (true)Rubber vine - seeds (ornamental)

For more information get the rubber vine identification fact sheet (1.0 mb).

If you are unsure, contact the Weed Management Branch.

Control

If you think you may have seen rubber vine, or have this weed on your property, don't attempt to control it. Contact the Weed Management Branch immediately for assistance.

Rubber vine is on the alert list for environmental weeds. This is a list of weeds that threaten biodiversity and cause other environmental damage.

Last updated: 12 May 2018