Bluebell Creeper (Billardiera heterophylla)

Photo: (c) Donald Hobern

Family: Pittosporaceae

Growth Habit: Bluebell Creeper has narrow, oval, leaves, glossy green on the surface, 10-60 mm long and 2-22 mm wide.  Young stems are a reddish-brown. 

Type of plant: Twining climber or dense scrambling shrub, with vine-like branches that twine around other plants for support, which may smother other plants.

Flowers: Dainty drooping single or clusters of 2-5 blue or white flowers on long stalks, mainly in spring and summer.

Fruit/Seeds: Fleshy, green cylindrical berries, 2-3 cm long, that ripen to blue-black. Fruits contain up to 80 seeds.

Dispersal: Large amount of fruit which is eaten by birds and other animals and spread in their droppings. Also reproduces by root segments. Can spread for many metres vegetatively, with roots able to form where branches touch the ground. 

Distribution: This plant is native to Western Australia and is commonly planted in gardens as a “native plant”. 

Status: Undeclared in Tasmania but can be a serious environmental weed.

Weed Impact:

  • Serious environmental weed as it highly invasive, grows in most conditions and soil types and most bushland areas.
  • Can smother ground and understorey species, forming a monoculture.
  • Germinates readily after disturbance like fire.
  • Toxic – contains toxins that can irritate the skin and cause nausea. Wear gloves when handling it.

Control Methods:

  • Replace Bluebell Creeper with other non-weedy species in your garden. For example: Azores Jasmine (Jasminum azoricum), Wonga Wonga Vine (Pandorea pandorana) or Edna Walling Blue Bells (a sterile form of the Bluebell Creeper).
  • Do not dump garden waste.
  • Pulling or digging out seedlings and saplings, ideally when the soil is moist.
  • Cutting/scraping stem and painting with recommended herbicide.
  • Spraying with a broad-leaf or non-selective herbicide where the risk of off-target damage to native plants is low.

N.B. Always check the herbicide label before use.

Photo: John Lindley 1799-1865