Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Mikania Vine (Mikania micrantha) is a serious weed in the Pacific Islands, south-east Asia, Indonesia and New Guinea.
  • It has the potential to become a major pest of the Queensland Wet Tropics and other humid regions of northern Australia.
  • It rapidly chokes and smothers areas it has recently colonized, including natural vegetation and agricultural crops, destroys the natural environment and drives out native animals.
  • This species has been nominated as among 100 of the "World's Worst" invaders.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Mikania Vine (Mikania micrantha) is a branched, slender-stemmed perennial vine with ribbed stems to 6 m long. The heart-shaped or triangular leaves are borne in opposite pairs along the stems, have 2 to 8 cm long stalks, 3 prominent veins and vary from 4–13 cm long.

Numerous 'fluffy' flower-heads (capitula) are borne in branched clusters originating in the forks (axils) of the leaves or forming at the tips of the branches. These flower-heads are small (3–6 mm long), greenish-white or white in colour, consist of four individual 'florets', and lack obvious petals (i.e. they have no ray florets).

The black 'seeds' (achenes) are linear-oblong, 5-angled and 1.5 to 2 mm long. Each seed is surmounted by a tuft (a pappus) of 30 or more fine white bristles (Navie 2004; GISD 2005; NRW 2005).

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

Flower colour


Growth form (weed type/habit)


Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

Mikania Vine invades agricultural areas, coastland, disturbed areas, natural forests, planted forests, riparian zones, scrub/shrublands, urban areas, wetlands and some crops. It flourishes where fertility, organic matter, soil moisture, and humidity are all high. It can tolerate some shade (Navie 2004; GISD 2005).

Are there similar species?

Mikania Vine (Mikania micrantha) is reasonably similar to several other vines including Climbing Groundsel (Senecio angulatus), Old Man's Beard (Clematis vitalba), English Ivy (Hedera helix) and Ivy Groundsel (Delairea odorata).

Old Man's Beard also has oppositely arranged leaves but these are compound. The flowers are similar in colour to Mikania Vine (white or greenish-white flowers) but have four obvious 'petals' (actually sepals). Climbing groundsel has alternately arranged simple leaves and relatively large yellow flower-heads (capitula) with several prominent 'petals' (ray florets). English Ivy has alternately arranged simple leaves and inconspicuous greenish coloured flowers with five small petals. Ivy Groundsel (Delairea odorata) has alternately arranged simple leaves and small yellow flower-heads (capitula) with no obvious 'petals' (ray florets) (Navie 2004).

It should not be confused with Persicaria perfoliata [as Polygonum perfoliatum] (also known as Mile-a-minute), which is an herbaceous, annual, trailing vine of the buckwheat family (Polygonaceae) that is native to the Eastern Asia and the Philippines. It has not been recorded for Australia (GISD 2005).

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

This species has been nominated as among 100 of the "World's Worst" invaders (GISD 2005).

Once established, Mikania Vine spreads at an alarming rate, climbing readily and twining on any vertical support, including crops, bushes, trees, walls and fences. Its shoots have been reported to grow up to 27 mm a day. Vegetative reproduction is also efficient and vigorous. Although intolerant of heavy shade it readily colonises gaps (GISD 2005).

Agriculture: Vigorous infestations damage or kill other plants by cutting out the light and smothering them. In this respect it is especially damaging in young plantations and nurseries. It also competes for water and nutrients, but perhaps even more importantly, it is believed that the plant releases substances that inhibit the growth of other plants (GISD 2005).

Native ecosystems: Mikania Vine is a major environmental weed, as well as a pest in plantation crops and commercial forests, from West Africa through India to south-east Asia and the Pacific Islands. Thriving in humid tropical areas, it has the potential to cause serious damage to agriculture (including sugar cane, tropical fruit and vegetable production) and native vegetation in northern Australia (NRW 2005).

Several of the known infestations abut the rainforests of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area in north Queensland (Waterhouse 2003). These forests could be threatened if this weed was to spread (NRW 2005).

How does it spread?

Each Mikania Vine plant produces tens of thousands of fine, fluffy seeds which are wind-dispersed or moved on clothing or animal hair and by machinery or water. Plants can root from the nodes, and spread is aided by cultivation that breaks up the runners and moves viable pieces. A single plant may cover over 25 square metres within a few months, and release as many as 40 000 viable seeds every year (GISD 2005; NRW 2005).

What is its history in Australia?

Mikania Vine was first recorded in mainland Australia in June 1998, with the discovery of three small infestations at Bingil Bay, Mission Beach and Forrest Beach in north Queensland. In 2001, several additional infestations were discovered at Speewah and Ingham, also in north Queensland, but the total (known) infested area remains at less than 30 hectares. Several of the infestations abut rainforests of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Although their origin is unclear, the infestations at Bingil Bay, Mission Beach and Forrest Beach were related. At Mission Beach and Forrest Beach plants had been intentionally cultivated for use as an herbal remedy for skin infections. The origin of the Ingham infestation is unknown. Circumstantial evidence suggests a separate introduction to Speewah, possibly as a contaminant of imported palm seeds. All known infestations are now targets of an eradication campaign (Waterhouse 2003).

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

Mikania Vine is one of the species targeted for national eradication under the National Resource Management Ministerial Council's National Cost-Sharing Eradication Programmes. These programmes map and monitor the full distribution of the species, and coordinate or undertake activities to eradicate that species from Australia.

Non-chemical control: Mechanical control of Mikania Vine is difficult, because of the high output of viable seeds, and because new plants can grow from even the tiniest stem fragments.

Chemical control: Other than complete destruction of all the stems, herbicides provide the only suitable method of control at present (GISD 2005).

If you think you have found this plant, please contact your local Council Pest Management/Environment

Officer, or your local Department of Natural Resources and Water Land Protection Officer advice on how it can be safely removed. Incorrect treatment can actually make the problem much worse.

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

Biological control: A number of very promising (and probably specific) natural enemies are known in Central and South America. Of these a thrips, Liothrips mikaniae appears to be specific and to have considerable potential as a biological control organism. It was introduced into the Solomon Islands in 1988, but failed to establish. A bug, Teleonemia sp., several beetles and an eriophyid mite, Acalitus sp. also warrant serious consideration. Fungal pathogens have also been investigated in India as a potential biological control method (PIER 2003; GISD 2005).

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

Mikania Vine is a perennial, and like many tropical weeds has a broad growing period. Flowering occurs mostly from late autumn through to early spring. In some locations around the world flowering and seed production are during short days only (Navie 2004; GISD 2005).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

Mikania Vine is naturalized in Far North Queensland in Ingham, Bingil Bay, and Speewah, as well as on Christmas Island (NRW 2005).

Where does it originate?

Mikania Vine is native to Central and South America, where it grows in and near forests, along rivers and streams and in disturbed areas such as roadsides (GISD 2005).

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

Mikania micrantha

Other scientific names (synonyms)?


Does it have other known common name(s)?

Mile-a-minute, American Rope, Chinese Creeper

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