Anredera cordifolia

Madeira vine


Anredera cordifolia

(Ten.) Steenis 1957

pronounced: an-RED-er-uh kor-dih-FOH-lee-uh

(Basellaceae — the Madeira vine family)


common name: Madeira vine

Why the genus was named Anredera is not known; cordifolia is from the Latin cor (cordis), the heart, and folium, a leaf, referring to the cordate leaves of this species.

This vine, which easily becomes a serious environmental weed, is a twining plant with glabrous stems, that clambers up and over other plants and trees up to about 30 m tall. It is a weed of forest gaps and margins, moist woodlands, bushland, riparian zones, waste areas, disturbed sites, gardens, parks and plantation crops.

Its stems are green or reddish in colour and round in cross-section. They become rope-like in appearance and turn greyish brown in colour as they mature. Distinctive greyish brown or greenish coloured warty tubers, usually 2 – 3 cm long, but sometimes up to 10 cm, often form at the nodes along the older stems.

The leaves are alternate, slightly fleshy, and glabrous, and sometimes have a glossy appearance. Their petioles are up to 2 cm in length, and the leaves are cordate to ovate in shape, up to 15 cm long by 10 cm wide, with either an acute or an obtuse apex.

The plants produce masses of drooping flower clusters in the axils of the upper leaves. These racemes bear numerous small white or cream-coloured fragrant flowers about 5 mm across. They are star-shaped, with 5 sepals, and are borne on pedicels 2 – 3 mm long. They also have 5 stamens, and an ovary topped with a 3-branched style and 3 tiny club-shaped stigmas. The 2 – 3 mm long petals are fleshy, persistent, and turn dark brown or black with age.

Originally from South America, the plant has escaped from gardens and is now rife in coastal summer rainfall areas of NSW and Queensland in particular, and also in parts of Victoria, South Australia, and the south-western areas of Western Australia. It is also gradually spreading inland along watercourses. It is not yet widespread on Magnetic Island. The plant is very difficult to control, as it spreads due to the dropping of its vast numbers of aerial tubers, and by sections of severed stem – seed production is rare in Australia. It is more likely to become a serious pest in sub-tropical and temperate regions, where it can degrade intact native forests, completely altering the environment it dominates, smothering trees, shrubs and understorey species. It becomes so heavy that it can bring down the trees it covers. The worse-affected areas in North Queensland are around Cairns, and on the Atherton Tableland.

Biological control is being attempted. The leaf-feeding beetle Plectonycha correntina was first released in Queensland in 2011, and it continues to be released both there and in NSW. Both adult and larval stages feed on the leaves of Madeira vine, causing leaf damage and defoliation.


Photographs aken in Nelly Bay, 2013
Page last updated 10th October 2018