upper mary valley weed vine project to kill all aerial and underground tubers. the madeira beetle...
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Upper Mary Valley Weed Vine Project
What’s the problem with weed vines?
Cats Claw Creeper and Madeira Vine smother native vegetation, particularly along streams. This usually destroys
both large and small trees, and causes their collapse into waterways. As a result, there is a loss of habitat for both
our forest-dwelling wildlife and those living in the streams.
Landholders are also faced with erosion problems, and water quality is seriously degraded by sediment. For this
reason, these two vines are listed as Weeds of National Significance.
Cats Claw Creeper smothering and strangling rainforest vegetation on Little Yabba Creek.
They are a serious threat to the survival of Subtropical Lowland Rainforest which is critically endangered nationally.
This rainforest is facing an extremely high risk of extinction. Many threatened animals such as the Giant Barred Frog,
Mary River Turtle and Australian Lungfish, are also affected by the damage caused to their habitat.
A third weed vine, Dutchman’s Pipe, is a problem for the threatened Richmond Birdwing Butterfly. The vine mimics
the native vine on which the butterfly lays its eggs. Unfortunately, the weed vine is toxic to the caterpillars and
destroys them before they can pupate.
Where are these weed vines?
These weed vines occur in eastern Australia and they are particularly prolific between Sydney and Rockhampton.
The focus of our work to eradicate weed vines is the Upper Mary River catchment, which includes tributaries arising
in the Blackall and Conondale ranges, downstream on the main trunk of the river to Cambroon. Cats Claw Creeper,
Madeira Vine and Dutchman’s Pipe occur through much of this catchment but our control works are gradually
reducing their extent. Work began at the top of the catchment to prevent seed and tubers being carried
downstream and continuing to infest the lower reaches of the Mary River.
How do we control these weeds?
Hinterland Bush Links has mapped most infestations over the past eight years, with community reports adding to the
records. We have then engaged licensed contractors to destroy these weed vines. Permits are required for use of all
Cats Claw Creeper
With Cats Claw Creeper, a section of vines is cut from chest height to the base of the tree so that the vine is killed in
the canopy. This prevents the vine flowering and dispersing seed from the long hanging pods. The cut stems at the
base of the tree are then treated with Glyphosate, Brush-off or Kamba to kill tubers underground. This is repeated at
least once a year for up to five years to ensure that all tubers are killed and can’t re-sprout. Foliar spraying is
sometimes used on small vines that have spread across the ground, but this isn’t always effective. (See Resources
below for more information)
Biocontrols have been released at some sites to control the growth of Cats Claw Creeper. The Leaf-mining Jewel
Beetle and the Tingid Bug are insects that have had some impact on the vines.
Cats Claw leaves showing the tiny claws. Yellow flowers in Spring. Profusion of hanging Cats Claw seed pods in tree canopy.
Left: Cats Claw underground tuber. Right: Cutting out a section of the creeper before treating the lower stems to kill
Madeira Vine is never pulled out of the trees as it is covered with loosely attached aerial tubers, each of which
sprouts a new vine if it is shaken to the ground. Instead, the lower stems close to the base of the tree, are scraped of
bark on two sides for a length of about 30cm. Then Vigilant herbicide is applied on these scraped surfaces and this is
carried both up the stem and underground to the aerial and ground tubers. Never cut the vine as this will prevent
movement of the herbicide to the aerial tubers. Spraying is sometimes undertaken with Brush-off or Starane. (See
Resources for more information). Infestations of Madeira Vine are re-treated at least once a year for up to ten years
to kill all aerial and underground tubers.
The Madeira Beetle has been released at some sites and has had some impact on the vines.
Madeira Vine smothering trees at Grigor Bridge, Conondale. Creamy flowers of Madeira Vine in autumn.
Heart-shaped fleshy leaves and aerial tubers of Madeira Vine. Application of Vigilant to stems scraped of bark on two sides.
Dutchman’s pipe is becoming more prevalent in the Upper Mary Catchment. It has an abundance of seed which
seems to be dispersing via water, animals and humans. Unopened seed pods on smaller infestations should be
collected and disposed of where possible. Single plants can be dug out although care should be taken to remove the
entire crown and as much root as possible. For larger infestations stems can be cut and painted or stem scraped.
Vigilant gel is effective in both these treatments or Glyphosate at 1:1 can be used. For larger infestations foliage is
sprayed after ensuring no native trees are under the vines. Glyphosate and/or Metsulfuron (Brush-off) can be used.
Flower and heart-shaped non-fleshy leaves of Dutchman’s Pipe
Seed pod of Dutchman’s Pipe. The threatened Richmond Birdwing butterfly on its native host vine.
Hinterland Bush Links has a volunteer bush regeneration group called Roving Restorers which assists landholders
with weed control including treating light infestations of these serious weed vines. Bush Links also supports the
Sunshine Coast Council’s Little Yabba, Avocado Lane and Maleny Showgrounds Bushcare groups which do similar
work on Council reserves.
How you can help with control?
First up, you need to recognise these weed vines. Have a look at the photos in this information pack to help you
identify the vines, even when they are not flowering.
A simple approach to Cats Claw control is to cut the stems low on the trunk before flowering so that they don’t set
seed. You can then request help through our program to do further treatment of the vines.
Hinterland Bush Links would like to receive reports of all infestations in the Upper Mary Catchment. Once we know
the location and extent of these weed sites, we can schedule them in for treatment. Please let Susie Duncan know by
phone or email – see details below.
If you are keen to undertake herbicide treatment of any of these vines yourself, refer to the techniques described in
these notes and fact sheets. Make sure you follow all herbicide labelling for correct dilutions and safety measures.
Note that you will need to repeat the treatment at least once a year for up to five years (Cats Claw), and ten years
(Madeira Vine), to ensure that underground tubers are destroyed. Please contact us for further advice and to report
the location of the site.
Sunshine Coast Council offer Landholder Environment Grants (LEG) once a year Landholder Environment Grants so
you may be able to receive some funding to assist with weed vine works you undertake. Talking to your neighbours
about weed vine issues and how to get in touch with this program, would greatly assist our eradication work. You
may also consider planting Richmond Birdwing Vines in semi-shaded sites to increase habitat for the Richmond
Birdwing Butterfly. These vines are available from the Barung Landcare nursery in Porters Lane, Maleny.
For further information or to report any infestations, contact:
Coordinator, Hinterland Bush Links Inc.
Ph 0448 447322
https://www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/Living-and-Community/Grants-and-Funding/Grants-Programs/Environment-Levy-Grants/Landholder-Environment-Grants mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org www.hinterlandbushlinks.org https://www.facebook.com/groups/hinterlandbushlinks/
Upper Mary Valley Weed Vine Project – location
Example of weed vine mapping on Walli Creek
Cats Claw Creeper
Dutchman’s Pipe vine
Biocontrol for Cats Claw and Madeira Vine
Richmond Birdwing brochure
This project has been supported by
the Department of Environment &