Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Skunk Vine (Paederia foetida) is a perennial twining vine growing to more than 7 m.
  • In Australia, it is only known from Christmas Island, where it is considered an aggressive weed.
  • It is widespread in tropical and temperate areas of Asia and North and South America, owing to its tolerance of a wide range of soil and climatic conditions.
  • It grows aggressively and can smother under-story, mid-story and over-storey vegetation, displacing native understorey species, and actively damaging overstorey trees.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Skunk Vine (Paederia foetida) is a perennial twining vine growing 2–7 m long or more from a woody rootstock. The climbing or prostrate stems can root at the nodes. The leaves are opposite (occasionally in whorls of 3), 4.5–14 cm long and 2–5 cm wide, hairless except for the primary veins on the lower surface, oval to linear-lanceolate (lance-shaped), rounded to lobed (subcordate) at the base, and have entire margins (without teeth or lobes). The leaf stalks (petioles) are approximately 6 cm long, with conspicuous leaf-like appendages (stipules) at the base. When crushed, the leaves produce an unpleasant odour.

The flowers are small and greyish-pink to lilac in colour usually with a dark pink throat, and occur in clusters up to 30 cm long in the leaf axils or are terminal on the stems. The petals are densely hairy on the outer surface and are fused to form a tube 7–11 mm long with 5 spreading lobes.

The fruit are shiny yellowish-brown capsules, to 0.7 cm wide, and contain 2 black rounded seeds that are often dotted with white crystals (Wagner et al. 1999; Weber 2003).

For further information and assistance with identification of Skunk Vine, contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Flower colour

Purple, Pink

Growth form (weed type/habit)


Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

In its native range, Skunk Vine occurs on grassy hillsides, forests, open forests, river banks, waste areas, tickets, roadsides and urban areas. Its wide natural distribution and the diversity of zones in which it inhabits suggest that Skunk Vine is tolerant of a wide variety of soil, climatic and hydrological conditions (Pemberton & Pratt 2002).

Are there similar species?

Skunk Vine is very similar to the closely related species P. cruddasiana (Sewer Vine). The fruit of Sewer Vine are oval and laterally compressed, with distinctly winged seeds, while Skunk Vine has spherical fruit and wingless seeds (Pemberton & Pratt 2002).

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

Native ecosystems: Skunk Vine invades a variety of habitats and grows quickly and aggressively (Starr et al. 2003). It invades numerous plant communities and can create dense canopies leading to the death or damage of native vegetation. It can also form dense mats in the understorey and can smother and displace native species and alter community structure (Pemberton & Pratt 2002; Weber 2003). Skunk Vine can climb and smother mid-story and over-storey trees, resulting in the collapse of the tree or branches (Pemberton & Pratt 2002). It quickly colonises tree-fall gaps, preventing forest regeneration (Weber 2003).

Urban environments: Although primarily a weed of natural ecosystems, agricultural and urban environment damage does occur. It is particularly problematic in Hawaii where it invades urban areas and smothers ornamental plants and forms mats over lawns.

Agriculture: It is also a serious weed of nurseries in Hawaii, where it invades field plantations used for propagation (Pemberton & Pratt 2002). Skunk Vine can be a serious weed of young sugar cane (PIER 2007).

How does it spread?

Skunk Vine has been spread widely by humans around to world due to its use as an ornamental. Where it is naturalised, however, birds are suspected to eat and spread the fruit (Starr et al. 2003). It can reproduce vegetatively, and is likely to spread via stem or root fragments, or seeds, in dumped garden waste (Pemberton & Pratt 2002).

What is its history in Australia?

Skunk Vine has been introduced into many warm regions of the world as an ornamental vine. It has also been reported to have been introduced into some places as a potential fibre plant (e.g. in Florida) (Starr et al. 2003).

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

Non-chemical control: It is possible to control small infestations of Skunk Vine by mechanical removal, although regrowth is likely in dense infestations (Starr et al. 2003). Large-scale hand removal has proven to be ineffective as cut stems die from above, but regrow from the roots. Care must be taken not to dispose of cut plants in areas where seeds can germinate or stem fragments can take root (Langeland et al. 2008).

Chemical control: Skunk Vine can be controlled with directed herbicide applications to foliage, being careful to avoid surrounding native vegetation, although some non-target damage is probable. It can be controlled with basal bark applications, taking care to only apply to the vines and not surrounding vegetation (PIER 2007).

Please see the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for chemical information http://www.apvma.gov.au

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

Skunk Vine is a perennial (a plant that lives for more than 2 years). It flowers and fruits mostly in summer and autumn in the Northern Hemisphere (GISD 2005).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?

Found on Christmas Island but not naturalised on mainland Australia.

What areas within states and territories is it found?

Skunk Vine is not known to be naturalised on mainland Australia, however it is considered to be a serious weed on Christmas Island (PIER 2007). It is prohibited entry into the Northern Territory, but is not declared in any other state in Australia (AQIS 2007).

Where does it originate?

Skunk Vine is native to tropical and temperate eastern and southern Asia. At its northern limits in Japan, temperatures can reach as low as -20°C, thus it is able to tolerate temperate conditions (Starr et al. 2003). Its southern limits are Christmas Island and Timor (Pemberton & Pratt 2002). It is widely cultivated and/or naturalised in, for example, the south-eastern United States of America and Hawaii, tropical South America, Mauritius, Reunion, Sri Lanka and New Guinea (Pemberton & Pratt 2002; GRIN 2008). It is considered to be an aggressive weed on Christmas Island and Mauritius (Starr et al. 2003).

National And State Weed Listings

Is it a Weed of National Significance (WONS)?


Where is it a declared weed?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the National Alert List for Environmental Weeds?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the Agricultural Sleeper List?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Names And Taxonomy

Main scientific name

Paederia foetida

Other scientific names (synonyms)?


Does it have other known common name(s)?

Daun Kentut (Christmas Is.), Skunkvine, Lesser Malayan Stinkwort, Chinese Fever Vine

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