Rubber Vine

Cryptostegia grandiflora
Family: Ascelpiadaceae

Growth Habit: Originating from Madagascar, Rubber vine is quite versatile as it can scramble or grow independently as an untidy shrub that reach 1-2 metres in height. Stems, leaves and unripe pods excrete a white, milky sap if broken. Dark green glossy leaves are usually 6-10 cm long and 3-5 cm wide.

Type of Plant: Rubber vine is a vigorous climber.

Flowers: When conditions are good Rubber vine can flower throughout the year but usually not in June or July. Rubber vine has a 5 petalled flower that are large and attractive. Flowers range in colour from white to light purple.

Fruit/Seed: Seed pods usually form in spring to late autumn. The pods are 10-12 cm in length and about 3-4 cm wide. These grow in pairs at the end of a short stalk. The pods contain a remarkable amount of seeds up to 450 that are brown in colour. When the pods dry out they split dispersing the seeds.

Dispersal: The seeds are dispersed by the wind or water. A tuft of long white silky hairs assists with their journey.

Distribution: In 1875 Rubber vine was introduced as an ornamental shrub. Preferring an annual rainfall between 400 to 1400mm, Rubber vine infestations are now located along the river systems of southern Cape York and the Gulf of Carpentaria. Queensland has many isolated infestations as far south as Gatton, as far west as the Northern Territory border however Rubber vine is common in central Queensland. Western Australia also has some isolated infestations.

Status: Rubber vine is a Weed of National Significance.

Weed Impact:

  • Restricts access by stock
  • Interferes with mustering
  • Pasture decreases as infestations increase
  • Poisonous to stock although consumption by stock usually only occurs in poor conditions
  • Causes an imbalance to biodiversity affecting fauna and flora
  • Provides shelter for feral animals
  • Rubber vine is quick to spread and colonise

Information referenced from “Queensland Government, Department of Natural Resources Pest Fact No PP11.”