Cape Town Invasives News

City needs help finding the invasive Madeira vine known for strangling trees

City needs help finding the invasive Madeira vine known for strangling trees

MEDIA RELEASE: 27 April 2015

Good looks are deceiving when it comes to the Madeira vine. It may have soft, heart-shaped leaves and small white star-shape flowers but this invasive species is known to cause ecological damage as it strangles and displaces any tree, including the Milkwood trees, which are classified as one of South Africa’s protected trees. Therefore, the City is calling on the public to report any sightings of this invasive vine as it is trying to establish how wide-spread this plant is across Cape Town. Read more below:

The City of Cape Town’s Environmental Resource Management Department’s Invasive Species Unit needs the public’s help to report any sightings of the Madeira vine (Anredera cordifolia) to determine how widely spread it is so that a management programme can be developed accordingly.

This invasive species has been classified under the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act (NEMBA) as a Category 1b species, meaning that it must be controlled, or removed and destroyed if possible. Any form of trade or planting of this species is strictly prohibited.

Anredera cordifolia - commonly known as Madeira vine, Bridal wreath, Potato vine or Lambs tail vine - is an evergreen vine, native to tropical South America, which spreads out in a dense mat when unsupported, or climbs into tree canopies. The vine can climb to heights of to 40m high. The leaves are slightly fleshy and soft, bright green and heart shaped. The stems are hairless, twining and can become 30m long, initially being green or pink-red and herbaceous, advancing to become brown and woody with age, reaching 2cm to 3cm in diameter. Small, white, star-shaped flowers appear on long stalks between February-May, similar in appearance to a lambs tail, and being numerous and densely arranged on the plant, giving it a soft appearance.

Despite its good looks, this invasive species has started strangling Milkwood trees (Sideroxylon inerme) in the Noordhoek area, which are classified as one of South Africa’s protected trees.

The Madeira vine spreads through wart-like tubers (diameter between 5mm-25cm) on the stems or underground, and regenerates from cut or broken stem sections, making it a particularly troublesome exotic. Woodlands, grasslands, scrub biomes and open urban spaces are all at risk of invasion by Madeira vine, where dense stands of the vine can smother and bring down trees.

What to do:

Due to Madeira vine spreading by tuber growth and root systems, it is critically important to not discard plant material in compost heaps, landfills or dumping sites. Residents are urged to contact the City for advice when attempting to dispose of Madeira vine, for infestations of any size.

‘The organic beauty of Cape Town should not be smothered by invasive vines, therefore, we appeal to the public to join hands with the City by actively getting involved in spotting, reporting and identifying the Madeira vine and potential new invaders as this will contribute to conserving the trees and plants synonymous to Cape Town. Following the analysis of the reported sightings and an applicable control programme, we are hoping that together we will be able to nip the spread of this invasive vine in the bud so that we can enjoy the natural beauty and sustainability of our trees and plants,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Energy, Environmental and Spatial Planning, Councillor Johan van der Merwe.

Residents who want to participate in reporting invasive species, or wishing to obtain more information on Madeira vine, invasive species in general and their impacts, can visit or on Facebook:
Cape Town residents are asked to report sightings of this plant to the Cape Town Invasive Species Unit: