Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Originally from South America, Moth Vine (Araujia sericifera) is a perennial vine with stems climbing to 5–10 m on supporting vegetation.
  • Moth vine grows quickly and smothers other plants
  • It invades areas of healthy bushland natural areas, parks and gardens where it smothers other plants
  • It produces numerous seeds which are readily dispersed by wind.
  • Moth vine is poisonous to people and animals.
  • When damaged Moth Plant exudes a caustic milky sap that can cause skin irritation and dermatitis.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Moth Vine (Araujia sericifera) is a perennial evergreen vine with twining robust stems, climbing to 5–10 m on supporting vegetation. Damaged stems, leaves and green fruits exude a caustic milky sap when cut or injured. The stems have a very short dense covering of hairs when young but become almost hairless with age. The leaves are ovate (egg-shaped with the widest part near the base) to triangular-ovate or oblong (rounded at each end with parallel sides) in outline. They range from 30 to 110 mm long and 15 to 60 mm wide, arranged in pairs (opposite) along the branchlets with successive pairs borne at right angles to each other (decussate). One to five small finger-like glands are present in a cluster at the base of the midrib on the upper surface of the leaf. The upper surface of the leaves is dark green and sparsely covered with very short hairs. The lower surface of the leaves is blue-green with a very short dense covering of hairs. The leaf stalk is 5 to 40 mm long.

The flowers are cream to white or slightly pinkish in colour, solitary or grouped together into clusters of two to five. Each flower or flower cluster is borne on a main shared stalk (peduncle) mostly 5–15 mm long arising from the junction of the leaf stalk and the stem. The peduncle attaches to the 2–5 individual flower stalks (pedicels) 5–15 mm long. The individual flowers are highly fragrant tubular flowers, with 5 triangular sepals 8–13 mm long, almost free to base, glaucous (blue-green in colour with a whitish bloom) have five spreading triangular petals (corolla lobes) each measuring 10 to 12 mm long. The flower is cream to white or slightly pinkish in colour.

The fruit is egg-shaped to pear shaped, 60 to 100 mm long by 30 to 70 cm diameter, and is fleshy and blue-green in colour, turning brown and woody with age. fruit is a follicle ( dry fruit formed from 1 carpel, splitting along a single suture, to which the seeds are attached ). The mature fruit splits releasing numerous black seeds about 5–8 mm  long, and about 5 mm wide, ending in a tuft of white silky hairs about 25-30 mm long ( eFloraSA 2021; Harden & Williams 1990; Forster 1996; Big Scrub Rainforest Landcare Group 2000; Navie 2004; PlantNET 2021; Thorp & Wilson 1998 -;  VicFlora 2016).

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

Flower colour

White or Pink

Growth form (weed type/habit)


Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

Moth Vine (Araujia sericifera) is found mostly in coastal and adjoining tableland areas on forest margins and gaps, creek banks, roadsides, disturbed sites, and on wasteland in urban areas (Auld & Medd 1987; Forster 1996; Jeanes 1999; Big Scrub Rainforest Landcare Group 2000) vacant lots, wetlands and dunal areas. It is a weed of suburban bushland, gardens, orchards, plantation crops, open woodlands, and occasionally also forestry plantations. It prefers loose, fertile soils, a warm climate and moderate to high rainfall (Navie 2004; Auckland Regional Council 2008; Thorp & Wilson 1998 -). It is mainly found in sub-tropical and warmer temperate regions, but may occasionally be found in cooler temperate and semi-arid areas in riparian and sheltered areas, growing up and through existing vegetation.

Are there similar species?

Moth Vine (Araujia sericifera) may occasionally be confused with the native Common Milk Vine (Marsdenia rostrata), however Common Milk Vine has hairless or sparsely hairy young stems (not finely hairy) and leaves that are hairless on both sides. Flowers are also cream or whitish in colour but much smaller than flowers of Moth Plant. The large fruit (5–7 cm long) are egg-shaped or slightly elongated in shape.

Moth Vine may also occasionally be confused with the non-natives Tweedia (Oxypetalum coeruleum) [as Oxypetalum caeruleum] and Wax Flower (Stephanotis floribunda). Tweedia has bright blue flowers, not white, cream or pale pink as in Moth Plant, and fruit which are much slenderer than those of Moth Plant and cigar-shaped. Wax flower also has white flowers but hairless leaves and egg-shaped or slight elongated fruit. The fruit of Moth Plant are also very similar to those of the cultivated choko vine (Sechium edule), however the fruit of this species have a glossy appearance and the stems and lobed leaves are rough to the touch (Navie 2004).

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

Moth Vine (Araujia sericifera) is normally an environmental weed found in bush land, and urban areas and garden, and sometime in orchards and forestry plantations. Moth vine grows quickly and smothers other plants. Moth Vine is poisonous to people and animals. If the leaves, stems, stalks or green fruits is damaged the plant exudes a caustic milky sap that can cause skin irritation and dermatitis (Shepherd 2004) eye irritation in people and in some cases it can cause breathing difficulties (DPI NSW 2019). to humans. The leaves and seeds are also poisonous to people.

Agriculture: Moth Vine is a weed of orchards, plantation crops and occasionally also forestry plantations (Navie 2004), but rarely a weed in well managed agricultural setting. Can occur on the edge of paddocks and Moth Vine has been suspected of poisoning cattle and poultry. However is not often eaten by them (Everist 1974). Livestock poisoning is not common but there are records of poultry, cattle and horses being poisoned. Symptoms including, poor balance, staggering, vomiting and abdominal pain. Animals can recover but it can also result in death (DPI NSW 2019).

Native ecosystems: The seedlings of Moth Vine are shade tolerant, allowing establishment in relatively undisturbed forest. It can invade areas of healthy native bushland where it can smother native shrubs and small trees (Auckland Regional Council 2008; Thorp & Wilson 1998 -).

Urban areas: It is a weed of gardens, found on urban fringes and parks re-vegetated to remnant native vegetation in or on the edge of urban area. Causes skin irritations and poisonous is consumed. If poisoning occurs and:

  • the patient is unconscious, unresponsive or having difficulty breathing dial 000 or get to the emergency section of a hospital immediately.
  • the patient is conscious and responsive call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 or your doctor.
  • If going to a hospital take a piece of the plant for identification.

How does it spread?

Moth Vine (Araujia sericifera) produces numerous seeds which are spread by wind and can float on water. Seeds dispersed by wind can travel up to 30 km from their source. Seed can also be spread on clothing, by animals and in fodder. Living stems may be spread by disposal of garden rubbish (Big Scrub Rainforest Landcare Group 2000; Navie 2004; Auckland Regional Council 2008; Thorp & Wilson 1998 -).

What is its history in Australia?

Moth Plant was introduced into Australia as a garden ornamental and has become widely naturalised (Forster 1996). It has been recorded from Wilcannia in New South Wales as early as 1857 (National Herbarium of Victoria 2008).

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

Moth Vine (Araujia sericifera) can be controlled by hand pulling plants and herbicides. Wear gloves and other personal protective equipment. Plants produce lots of seeds which can live for up to 5 years so follow up work will be needed. Return to control areas regularly to check for any regrowth and re-treat when needed (DPI NSW 2019). For all methods of control fruit should be bagged and disposed of carefully to minimise the spread of seeds.

Chemical control:  Foliar spraying of seedlings and young plants is effective. However,  if vines are growing over native plants spot spraying will not be appropriate and other options should be used.  For these and larger vines the application of appropriate herbicides to the stem base by the cut, scrape and paint technique ( Cut-and-swab method where herbicide is applied to the stump of a felled / cut plant) is recommended. Fruit should be bagged and disposed of carefully to minimise the spread of seeds (Big Scrub Rainforest Landcare Group 2000).

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

Non-chemical control: Physical control: Seedlings and young plants of Moth Plant can be removed by grubbing and hand-pulling. However, care needs to be taken as the plants exude a caustic milky sap when damaged.

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

Moth Vine is a perennial vine. It flowers from November to March and produces mature fruits from April to July (Forster 1996). The seeds readily germinate in disturbed and undisturbed sites (Big Scrub Rainforest Landcare Group 2000).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

Moth Vine (Araujia sericifera) is naturalised in all mainland states except the Northern Territory. In eastern Australia it occurs on the east coast.

In Queensland it occurs from  from Mackay and Rockhampton, to south-eastern Queensland, with scattered infestations as far north as Mackay and Rockhampton and west near Roma, and Tamworth.

In New South Wales it occurs from the Queensland coast to the Victorian boarder and extends inland into higher rainfall areas (AVH 2021; Harden & Williams 1990; Harden & Williams 2007).

In South Australia  the Southern Lofty Region of South Australia (Pearce 1986),

In Tasmania it is currently found along the north coast.

It is naturalised in Victoria around Melbourne and Shepparton (Jeanes 1999),

IN Western Australia it is found around Perth and Bunbury in Western Australia (Rye 1987; Western Australian Herbarium 1998 -).

Where does it originate?

Moth Vine (Araujia sericifera) is native to South America, from Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay (POWO 2019).

National And State Weed Listings

Is it a Weed of National Significance (WONS)?


Where is it a declared weed?

Not declared in any Australian state or territory.

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

Araujia sericifera

Other scientific names (synonyms)?

  • Araujia albens (Mart.) G.Don
  • Araujia hortorum E.Foum.
  • Araujia sericofera Brot. (incorrect spelling)
  • Physianthus albens Mart.

Does it have other known common name(s)?

Moth Plant, Cruel Plant, Cape Dandelion, False Choko, Kapok Vine, Peruvian Creeper, White Bladder Flower, White Moth Plant, White Moth Vine

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