Rubber vine

Rubber vine is a declared Class A and Class C weed and a Weed of National Significance.

Go to the Weeds of National Significance website for more information.

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

The scientific names are Cryptostegia grandiflora and C. madagascariensis.

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 - infestation 

Identification

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

If you are unsure, contact the Weed Management Branch.

Habit

These features describe the habit of this plant:

  • woody, many-stemmed vine
  • climbing 30m into tree canopies
  • or 1 to 3m as a shrub if unsupported
  • releases a milky sap when broken or cut.

Rubber vine - habit (true) Rubber vine - habit (ornamental)

Leaves

These features can identify the leaves:

  • shiny dark green
  • opposite pairs
  • 6 to 10cm long and 3 to 5cm wide
  • true rubber vine leaf stalk is purplish
  • ornamental rubber vine leaf stalk is not purple.

Rubber vine - leaves (true) Rubber vine - leaves (ornamental)

Flowers

These features can identify the flowers of true rubber vine:

  • 5 to 6cm long and about 3.5cm wide
  • white inside and pink to purple outside
  • trumpet-shaped
  • five petals
  • appear from August to December.

These features can identify the flowers of ornamental rubber vine:

  • 4 to 6cm long and about 2.5cm wide
  • pink to purple inside and outside
  • trumpet-shaped
  • five petals
  • appear from December to February.

Rubber vine - flower (true) Rubber vine - flowers (ornamental)

Seed pods

These features can identify the seed pods:

  • seeds form in large pods
  • pods grow mostly in pairs
  • true rubber vine pods are up to 15cm long and 4cm wide
  • ornamental rubber vine pods are 7 to 9cm long and 3 to 4cm wide
  • contain more than 300 brown seeds.

Rubber vine - seed pods (true) Rubber vine - seed pods (ornamental)

Seeds

These features can identify the seeds:

  • brown and flat
  • a tuft of long white silky hairs at one end
  • easily spread by wind, water and birds.

Rubber vine - seeds (true) Rubber vine - seeds (ornamental)

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.

Habitat and distribution

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 it’s attractive flowers, and because it’s latex contains substantial quantities of rubber (hence the name).

Rubber vine now occupies and area within Queensland about the size of Victoria, and is spreading to the Northern Territory at a rate of 1-3% 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 Northern Territory 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.

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: 27 June 2017