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Rubber vine


A native of Madagascar, rubbervine (Cryptostegia grandiflora) was introduced as an ornamental garden plant in the 1860s, because of its glossy, dark-green leaves, pretty flowers and attractive venation. Rubbervine rapidly became a pest, spreading its seed by wind, floodwaters, and in mud sticking to animals and machinery. It was also widely planted in the Charters Towers region of north Queensland during World War II as an alternative source of rubber production, when supplies from South East Asia were disrupted. However these plans never came to fruition, and rubbervine today is very dense around this area.

Rubbervine shrouds trees alongside the Burdekin River, north Queensland.
Photo: Kate O'Donnell

In fact, a 1989 survey estimated that some 600,000 hectares were already affected in Queensland alone, and there is the potential to infest around 60 million hectares of northern Australia, or 20 per cent of the landmass.

Impact on environment

An aggressive climbing woody shrub, the plant can reach a height of 5 metres in a year, while the tendrils of an established plant can grow 5 metres in a month. Rubbervine favours watercourses where it forms impenetrable thickets, preventing animals from reaching the water to drink. It can also completely smother native plant communities, and causes soil erosion. It is highly toxic to stock, though unpalatable.


Rubbervine control is a continuous, long-term process involving a combination of mechanical, chemical and biological means. Control programs also need to be an integral part of the land management of infested areas.

Click here to read about rubbervine in North East Queensland or to see a recent list of research findings on rubbervine click here .


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