Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Originally from South America, Madeira Vine (Anredera cordifolia), a Weed of National Significance, is an aggressive climbing vine that smothers other trees and shrubs
  • It climbs over other plants and due to its weight causes structural damage or collapse of the canopy, in tropical, sub tropical, and in warm to cool temperate areas in higher rainfall or riparian sites.
  • Grows year round and is evergreen in warmer climates, and growth is seasonal in colder areas, with growth slowing or stopping completely in winter with plants losing some or all leaves.
  • Spreads by aerial bulbils (bulblets) that grow on the woody stems that when detached can grow and form new plants. Occasionally spreads by movement of underground tubers / rhizomes (roots) in soil that grow in to new plants. Not known to produce viable seed in Australia.
  • It is difficult to control with physical and chemical methods and follow-up is required as Madeira Vine spreads easily from aerial bulbils that are also difficult to kill.
  • Prevention is the most cost-effective form of weed control. Quarantine, early detection and good hygiene within infestations will prevent its spread.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Madeira Vine (Anredera cordifolia) is a long-lived woody vine that grows twinning and climbing over trees and shrubs, and can reach to 20-30 metres tall and wide. Madeira Vine propagates (produces new plants) from underground tubers (rhizomes), and aerially fleshy bulbils (or bulblet) produced along the stems. It is evergreen in tropical, sub-tropical and warm temperate areas, and semi-deciduous to deciduous in colder climates. Leaves are alternately arranged (one leaf per stem joint (node)) along the stem, sub-sessile (with a very small leaf stalk), slightly fleshy, bright green, normally glossy above, glabrous (hairless), and heart-shaped or broadly ovate (triangular in outline), 20-120 mm long, 15-100 mm wide. The twinning stems are slender at first, glabrous (hairless), with young stems often green with a reddish colour, growing in twining fashion, becoming thick and rope-like and covered with greyish-brown smooth bark as they mature. Each leaf axil (where the leaf joins the stem) is capable of producing a small irregular fleshy aerial bulbil. These bulbils are normally produced on older woody aerial stems, with each starting as a small swelling, expanding and multiplying in to a mass of fleshy wart-like greyish-brown or greenish bulbils, reaching 10-100 mm long, in some cases exceeding the size of a large fist. Bulbils are normally dislodged from the parent plant when bumped or knocked by animals or people.

The flowers are produced in racemes (cylindrical flowering heads) can be simple but also show some branching, from 60-200 mm long, sometimes to 300 mm long. Madeira Vine has masses of fragrant, drooping, small white or cream flowers to 5 mm in diameter. The flowers are star shaped and have 5 petals and 5 stamens. The petals are 2-3 mm long, fleshy, persistent and turn dark brown or black in colour with age, and surround the small fruit.

Viable seeds are generally not produced in Australia (ISSG 2006; Navie 2004).

Recognition: This species can normally be recognised by the combination of the following characters; twinning woody vine, semi fleshy hairless glossy above green leaves, cylindrical flowering heads with 100s of small cream flowers, and the key to identifying the plant are the fleshy areal bulbils along the stem, present all year round.

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

Flower colour

White or cream

Growth form (weed type/habit)


Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

Madeira Vine is found mostly in wetter (humid) temperate, sub-tropical and tropical regions. It is a weed of rain-forest margins, moist woodlands, bushland, waterways, waste areas, gardens, parks, plantation crops (e.g. sugar cane) and roadsides (Navie 2004). In cooler temperate areas it grows in higher rainfall areas especially near water or  in riparian situations in areas not fully exposed to the hot dry summer sun.

Are there similar species?

Madeira Vine is a very distinct species and is rarely confused with other species. Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) has a similar habit and grows in similar environments; however it has oppositely arranged leaves (leaves in pairs at the same stem joint (node)) and larger flowers that are borne in small clusters (Navie 2004).

Some weedy vines are superficially similar to Madeira Vine because of their fleshy leaves. These are:

Cape Ivy (Delairea odorata), and the climbing groundsels (Senecio angulatus and Senecio tamoides).

A native vine, Climbing Lignum (Meuhlenbeckia adpressa) has slightly fleshy leaves which may also have leaves with a heart-shaped (cordate) base like Anredera.

Some native vines have glossy, but not fleshy, heart-shaped leaves, for example, Snake Vine (Stephania japonica), Pearl Vine (Sarcopetalum harveyanum), Round-leaf Vine (Legnephora moorei ) and Giant Pepper Vine (Piper hederaceum). Giant Pepper Vine clings to tree trunks with small suckers of aerial roots, unlike Madeira Vine which twines (Miles undated).

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

Madeira Vine is a Weed of National Significance (WONS). It is regarded as one of the worst weeds in Australia because of its invasiveness, potential for spread, and economic and environmental impacts. It is known to grow in plantations and is an invasive environmental weed, difficult to control once established.

Agriculture:  Madeira Vine is not a known weed of agriculture.

Native ecosystems: Madeira Vine has aggressive vegetative growth habit which competes with and replaces other vegetation. Its aggressive climbing nature gives it the potential to smother other desirable plants and it blankets both shrubs and trees. Its sheer weight is capable of breaking branches off trees, thereby reducing them to poles, potentially causing collapse of the rainforest canopy (ISSG 2006). It restricts light and thereby prevents germination of desirable native species (Harley undated).

Urban areas: Madeira Vine is (or has) been used as a cultivated garden plant, and if not managed, its aggressive vegetative growth can smothering or damage other plants and structures, especially fence lines or sheds etc. It can often escape the garden and spread beyond property boundaries causing further damage. 

How does it spread?

Madeira Vine generally does not produce viable seeds in Australia.

The plant spreads via the aerial bulbils produced on woody stems in leaf axils which detach very easily or underground tubers / rhizomes (ISSG 2006). Aerial tubers can remain viable for at least five years (Miles undated). Only one clone appears to be is in cultivation worldwide (Green et al. 1994).

Aerial bulbils, when dislodged from can be spread naturally down hill by gravity or by water and even animals. People and management activities can also spread plants via dumping of material, machinery, and improper control methods. If the plants biology and means of spread is overlooked, control without follow-up can allow bulbils to drop off the parent plant and survive. These bulbils can then spread, regrow, and establish in to new plants in different locations forming new populations.

Underground tubers / rhizomes can also be spread by people in contaminated soil. These can also regrow, establish, and grow in to new plants in different locations forming new populations (ISSG 2006).


What is its history in Australia?

Madeira Vine is a garden escapee (Weeds Australia undated). It was imported because of its attractive white flowers and strong growth habit. 

It was first collected in NSW in 1894, QLD in 1946, Vic 1951, SA in 1961, Tas in 1965, and more recently in WA in 1986, and ACT in 2010.

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

Madeira Vine is difficult to control with physical and chemical methods. Single chemical and /or physical control activities generally cause disturbance that results in vigorous regrowth and can worsen infestation levels, unless dedicated follow-up occurs. 

Chemical control: Madeira Vine is hard to kill with chemicals due to its numerous tubers, succulent waxy leaves, and numerous roots. It has been recommended by some authors that all aerial bulbils are physically removed, and follow-up foliar spray is used on plants and bulbils as soon as green sprouts have two or four leaves on each sprout. Timing of follow-up spraying is important because if left too long, new underground tubers will form, prolonging control efforts. Some authors suggest that scraping stems at staggered intervals then applying a herbicide is the only recommended control method. Aerial stems should be cut at both ends and dipped in a herbicide (Invasive Species Specialist Group 2006). DPI NSW (2019) website list some herbicide options.

Non-chemical control: Physical control of Madeira Vine is very difficult. All parts of the vine must be removed, including underground tubers (rhizomes), aerial tubers and vines climbing up trees to prevent them from resprouting. Smaller Madeira Vine plants can be grubbed out ensuring that all of the bulbils are removed. Larger infestations can be controlled by cutting back top growth and spraying the remaining 2 metres of stems (Invasive Species Specialist Group 2006). Carefully hand pulling and hanging up the root system away from the soil where the tubers and rhizomes cannot re-root is effective as it eventually causes death to the root system. Tubers / rhizomes can be killed by freezing, treating with foliar herbicides, or bagged and left in the sun (Land Protection 2006).  As mentioned above in the chemical treatment section, the physical removal of any surviving bulbils that have fallen on the ground after chemical or any other control methods is required to prevent the establishment of new plants. It is important to not plant or spread plants to new areas. bulbils, rhizomes and other fleshy parts of the plant could be double bagged and thrown away in the trash or piled in one location on site. Precaution could be taken to not spread green waste to uninfected areas (ISSG 2006).

Biological control: DPI NSW (2019) state that the leaf feeding beetle, Plectonycha correntina has recently been approved for release in Australia. Both the adult and larval stages feed on the leaves reducing the plant’s photosynthetic ability and depleting the energy stores in the bulbils and tubers. Releases have occurred in New South Wales and Queensland—and at many of these sites the beetle has established and significant leaf feeding damage has been observed. The beetles lay small yellow eggs in groups of 8-15 on the undersides of leaves. After 5 days, larvae emerge and start feeding, covering themselves with a sticky, black, gelatine-like substance. After 14 days, they begin to feed alone, leaving their slimy covering behind, and emerging as small white, then butter-yellow grubs (3-4 mm long) with black heads. They then burrow into the topsoil to pupate for another 20 days, and then emerge as adult beetles, able to reproduce 7 days later. Each female can lay an average of 550 eggs. Beetles should only be used at sites that will not be subject to herbicide treatment or physical removal, and only in flood- and frost-free areas. 

In Ku-ring-gai National Park, near Sydney, New South Wales, efforts have been made to annually apply herbicide by the stem-scrape method to kill vines in situ and to kill existing aerial tubers and prevent the development of more. Madeira Vine tubers were picked from the soil once native seedlings began to regenerate and removed to landfill. Regrowth was spot sprayed with herbicide where there were no native seedlings. Although floods bring more tubers from upstream sources into the reserve, this strategy has almost eliminated the production of tubers within the reserve and thus protects the regenerating areas and bushland downstream in Garigal National Park from this threat (Pallin 2000).

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

Flowering occurs during late summer and autumn but Madeira Vine rarely reproduces by seed. Growth rates of stems in warmer and moister regions can exceed 1 m per week and up to 6 m in a growing season (ISSG 2006).

In colder climates Madeira Vine growth rates can slow or stop completely in winter. Growth resumes in spring when temperatures increase. Leaf development is obvious on deciduous plants with fresh new green leaves produced. However, warmer micro-climates in the same area help some plants to continue to grow retaining their leaves, while nearby exposed plants are completely deciduous with no winter growth. Flowers are normally produced in summer.

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

Madeira Vine is widespread species that is distributed mostly in the coastal and sub-coastal areas of southern Queensland and northern New South Wales to the Victorian border. Also scattered in some parts of central and southern New South Wales, temperate to warm temperate south-eastern South Australia, south-western Western Australia, Victoria and Tasmania (Navie 2004) and ACT. Absent from the NT (AVH 2020).

Where does it originate?

Madeira Vine is a native of tropical south America (PIER 2007).

National And State Weed Listings

Is it a Weed of National Significance (WONS)?


Where is it a declared weed?

Declared in all states and territories, apart from WA.

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

Anredera cordifolia

Other scientific names (synonyms)?

  • Andredera cordifolia Steenis (incorrect spelling)
  • Boussingaultia cordifolia Ten.
  • Boussingaultia gracilis Miers
  • Boussingaultia gracilis Miers f. gracilis
  • Boussingaultia gracilis f. pseudobaselloides Hauman
  • Boussingaultia baselloides Kunth (misapplied by Bailey, F.M. 1883, A Synopsis of the Queensland Flora. 411.)

Does it have other known common name(s)?

Anredera, Lamb's Tails, Mignonette Vine, Gulf Madeiravine, Heartleaf Madeiravine, Potato Vine, Jalap

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