Moth Plant

Also known as:
Cruel Plant, Kapok Vine, Araujia Sericifera
Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uraguay.

General description

Slender evergreen vine growing over hosts <6m. Arrowhead-like, opposite leaves, dark green on top, grey-green below. Clusters of small creamy coloured, waxy, tubular flowers (Dec-May) Large choko-like seed pods dry & split, releasing 250-1000 parachute-like seeds (autumn- winter).

Forest margins & gaps, hedges, wasteland, coastal areas. Prefers loose, fertile soils, warm climate, moderate rainfall. Seedlings shade tolerant, allowing establishment in relatively undisturbed forest.

Seeds dispersed by wind <30 km away. Also spread on clothing, animals.

Becomes the dominant species in urban situations, & competes with or replaces native plant species. Poisonous, with sap that has an irritant effect.

Site management

Avoid skin contact with sap. Remove fruits to prevent seeding. Follow up regularly.

Recommended approaches

1. Dig and pull out all seedlings.
2. Cut near ground (summer - autumn) and stump paint (20ml 2,4-D plus dicamba/1L or 10ml Tordon BK/1L or Vigilant gel). If using Vigilant gel, paint approx 20cm of the stem below the cut as well.
3. Spray in summer (120ml Tordon BK/10L or 120ml 2,4-D plus dicamba/10L).

Caution: when using any herbicide or pesticide PLEASE READ THE LABEL THOROUGHLY to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Similar species

old man's beard
Clematis vitalba

Old man's beard has 5 leaflets, each finely serrated along the leaf margin. Has fluffy seed heads and lacks white sap and large seed pods. The vine is deciduous.

Search tags

RPMS status

Surveillance - Whole Region
Containment (removal) - Waitakere and Hunua Ranges weed control zone
Containment (removal) - Hauraki Gulf Islands
Containment (removal) - mainland sites (see Map 5 of RPMS Appendix 3)
National Pest Plant Accord species - nationwide
Community Initiatives - Whole Region
moth plant - Main species image