Madeira vine is a creeper from South America with wide, fleshy, waxy heart-shaped leaves, bright green in colour. It produces fragrant creamy spikes, about 10cm long with numerous individual small flowers resembling a lamb’s tail. Flowering period: Feb-May. This creeper produces tubers (5mm-25cm) light-brown or green potato-like tubers along the stem, which fall to the ground and sprout. If not controlled properly, this species can cause substantial ecological damage by smothering indigenous vegetation.
The invasive, South American, Madeira vine (Anredera cordifolia) is an unwanted invader in the City of Cape Town.
With soft, heart-shaped leaves and small white star-shape flowers, this vine may look harmless. However, in Cape Town... the Madeira vine is known to cause ecological damage as it strangles and displaces any tree, including the City's indigenous milkwood trees, which are classified as one of South Africa’s protected trees.
The City of Cape Town’s Invasive Species Unit needs the public’s help to report any sightings of the Madeira vine (Anredera cordifolia) to determine how widely spread it is across Cape Town.
Once this information is established, a management programme can be developed accordingly.
Madeira vine is a Category 1b invasive species
This invasive vine has been classified under the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act (NEMBA) as a Category 1b species, meaning that it must be controlled, or removed and destroyed if possible. Any form of trade or planting of this species is strictly prohibited.
How can you identify it?
- Anredera cordifolia - commonly known as Madeira vine, bridal wreath, potato vine or lambs tail vine - is an evergreen vine, native to tropical South America, which spreads out in a dense mat when unsupported, or climbs into tree canopies.
- The vine can climb to heights of to 40m high.
- The leaves are slightly fleshy and soft, bright green and heart shaped.
- The stems are hairless, twining and can become 30m long, initially being green or pink-red and herbaceous, advancing to become brown and woody with age, reaching 2cm to 3cm in diameter.
- Small, white, star-shaped flowers appear on long stalks between February-May, similar in appearance to a lambs tail, and being numerous and densely arranged on the plant, giving it a soft appearance.
The Madeira or potato vine is characterised by tubers growing on the creeper in Cape Town.
Despite its good looks, this invasive species has started strangling indigenous Milkwood trees (Sideroxylon inerme) in the Noordhoek area, which are classified as one of South Africa’s protected trees.
The Madeira vine spreads through wart-like tubers (diameter between 5mm-25cm) on the stems or underground, and regenerates from cut or broken stem sections, making it a particularly troublesome exotic.
Woodlands, grasslands, scrub biomes and open urban spaces are all at risk of invasion by Madeira vine, where dense stands of the vine can smother and bring down trees.
What to do if you have a Madeira vine on your property?
Due to Madeira vine spreading by tuber growth and root systems, it is critically important to not discard plant material in compost heaps, landfills or dumping sites.
The invasive Madeira or potato vine tubers thrive in the warm sandy soils of Cape Town.
Residents are urged to contact the City for advice when attempting to dispose of Madeira vine, for infestations of any size.
The indigenous beauty of Cape Town should not be smothered by invasive vines, therefore, we appeal to the public to join hands with the City by actively getting involved in spotting, reporting and identifying the Madeira vine and potential new invaders as this will contribute to conserving the trees and plants synonymous to Cape Town.
Residents who want to participate in reporting invasive species, can join Cape Town Invasives on Facebook: www.facebook.com/ctinvasives
Madeira vine smothers indigenous vegetation in Cape Town.