A vigorous climbing plant that grows over other vegetation up to 30 m tall. Its green or reddish younger stems later become rope-like in appearance and produce numerous aerial tubers. These greyish-brown or greenish warty stem tubers (normally about 2-3 cm long) are the main means of reproduction and dispersal of this species. The heart-shaped leaves (2-15 cm long and 1.5-10 cm wide) are alternately arranged and slightly fleshy in nature. Numerous small, white or cream, fragrant flowers (about 5 mm across) are borne in elongated, drooping, flower spikes (6-30 cm long).
Widely naturalised in the eastern and southern parts of the country, but most common and widespread in the sub-tropical and warmer temperate regions of eastern Australia (i.e. in south-eastern Queensland and eastern New South Wales). Occasionally naturalised in central and northern Queensland, south-eastern South Australia, south-western Western Australia and Victoria and sparingly naturalised in Tasmania. Also naturalised on Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island.
A weed of rainforest gaps and margins, moist woodlands, bushland, waterways and riparian areas, waste areas, disturbed sites, gardens, parks, plantation crops (e.g. sugar cane) and roadsides in wetter temperate, sub-tropical and tropical regions.
A long-lived (i.e. perennial), twining or climbing plant growing over plants and trees up to 30 m tall.
Madeira vine (Anredera cordifolia) is a very significant environmental weed in New South Wales and Queensland and is actively managed by community groups in these states. It is also regarded as an environmental weed in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, and is listed as a priority environmental weed in eight Natural Resource Management regions throughout Australia.Madeira vine (Anredera cordifolia) is a highly invasive weed capable of smothering and destroying native vegetation. It is most problematic in moist forests (e.g. damp sclerophyll forests), rainforest margins and riparian vegetation, where it has the ability to establish under an intact canopy and can quickly engulf native species. The growth rate of stems in warmer and moister regions can exceed 1 m per week, and up to 6 m in a growing season. Its climbing stems can totally envelop the canopy layer, while is trailing stems also smother the ground layer of invaded habitats. This reduces light penetration, eventually killing the plants underneath and preventing the germination and regeneration of native plants. The sheer weight of dense infestations can even bring down trees in the canopy layer, and in this way Madeira vine (Anredera cordifolia) can change the structure of invaded communities, eventually destroying them.This species is currently regarded as one of the five most invasive plants in south-eastern Queensland and among the ten worst weeds in the Gold Coast City Council region. Madeira vine (Anredera cordifolia) also appears on numerous local and regional environmental weed lists in eastern New South Wales and south-eastern Queensland, and has been recorded in a large number of conservation areas in these states (e.g. Mount Etna Caves National Park and Noosa National Park in Queensland and Coocumbac Island Nature Reserve, Stotts Island Nature Reserve, Booti Booti State Conservation Area, Mount Warning National Park, Limpinwood Nature Reserve and Lane Cove National Park in New South Wales). Not only does it invade conservation areas, including some of the most significant ones in this part of Australia, but it is often seen as one of the major threats to their condition or the integrity of the remnant plant communities that they contain. For example, Madeira vine (Anredera cordifolia) is considered to be the most serious and destructive pest plant affecting rainforest remnants in the North Coast region of New South Wales. It is also regarded as potentially the greatest ecological threat to the world heritage listed Dorrigo National Park, west of Coffs Harbour.
The stems are hairless (i.e. glabrous) and grow in a twining fashion. Younger stems are green or reddish in colour and round in cross-section. They become rope-like in appearance and turn greyish-brown in colour as they mature. Distinctive greyish-brown or greenish-coloured warty tubers (1-10 cm long, but usually 2-3 cm long) often form at the joints (i.e. nodes) along the older stems. The leaves are alternately arranged, slightly fleshy (i.e. semi-succulent) in nature, hairless (i.e. glabrous) and sometimes have a glossy appearance. They are borne on leaf stalks (i.e. petioles) 5-20 mm long and are more or less heart-shaped (i.e. cordate) or broadly egg-shaped in outline (i.e. ovate). These leaves (2-15 cm long and 1.5-10 cm wide) either taper to a blunt point or have a somewhat rounded tip (i.e. acute or obtuse apex).
Plants produce masses of drooping flower clusters (6-30 cm long) which arise from the forks (i.e. axils) of the upper leaves. Each flower cluster (i.e. raceme) bears numerous small, white or cream-coloured, fragrant flowers (about 5 mm across). These star- shaped flowers have five 'petals' (i.e. tepals or perianth segments) and are borne on short stalks (i.e. pedicels) 2-3 mm long. They also have five stamens and an ovary topped with a three-branched style and three tiny club-shaped stigmas. The petals (2-3 mm long) are fleshy, persistent, turn dark brown or black in colour with age, and surround the small fruit. Flowering occurs mostly during late summer and autumn. Viable seeds are generally not produced in Australia.
This plant occasionally reproduces by seed, but mainly spreads via large numbers of specialised aerial tubers that are produced along the stems. It also spreads vegetatively by tuberous roots and creeping underground stems (i.e. rhizomes).The tubers are often dispersed in dumped garden waste and contaminated soil. They are also spread shorter distances after falling off stems high in the canopy (i.e. by gravity) and can be transported downstream in floods.
This is a very distinctive plant, especially when in flower, and is rarely confused with other species. The native climbing lignum (Muehlenbeckia adpressa) has similar leaves, but they have finely crinkled (i.e. crisped) margins, and this plant only grows to about 1 m tall.