Moth plant (Araujia sericifera) is also known as kapock vine, moth vine, milk vine, milk weed.
Moth plant is an evergreen rampant vine with twinning stems that releases milky white sap when they're broken. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs along the stems and are dark green with greyish downy undersides. The white flowers are bell shaped about 25mm across. The plant produces distinctive large green pear shaped pods full of tiny seeds.
Why is moth plant a problem?
Moth plant is a rapid-growing, vigorous, slender evergreen climbing vine, with milky sap that bleeds from all damaged parts. It can grow up to 10m high and completely Moth plant grows very quickly to smother and over-top shrubs, small trees, hedges, neighbouring fence lines and gardens. It establishes in all most any frost free habitat, intact or disturbed forest margins, urban reserves and gardens.
It can produce many pods on a plant, each containing hundreds of seeds. Once the pods ripen they split open shedding masses of seeds attached to long silken hairs that can then be dispersed by wind over large areas and also carried by water.
The sap is known to be poisonous, causing dermatitis.
What can I do to get rid of it?
♦ Pull out seedlings all year round.
♦ Roots of large plants should be cut off at 5cm above the ground and stump painted with a suitable woody weedkiller (following manufacturer application recommendations).
♦ Remove all pods and place in a disposable bag to put out with the rubbish.
♦ Vines can be left to dry out, burnt or deeply buried.
♦ Gloves are recommended when handling moth plant.
Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP)
Moth plant has a progressive containment programme status - environmental pest in the plan.
It is the responsibility of land owners or occupiers to remove or control of moth plant on whose land infestations occur.
Where a land occupier is carrying out moth plant control under the Good Neighbour Rule 1.08 of the RPMP the adjacent landowner/occupier within 50m of a boundary shall destroy any moth plant within 21 days of being notified by authorised council staff or upon council receiving a complaint.