Those beautiful brilliant yellow flowers in your backyard may be causing damage to our native bushland. Native to tropical America, cat’s claw creeper (Dolichandra unguis-cati) is a vigorous woody climber, with capsules 15-45cm long containing numerous winged seeds and tendrils ending in 3 sharp hooked claws, hence its name.
It is one of 32 Weeds of National Significance (WoNS) which are agreed by Australian governments based on an assessment process that prioritised these weeds based on their invasiveness, potential for spread and environmental, social and economic impacts.
So what’s the issue with cat’s claw creeper?
Cat’s claw creeper can spread very quickly with an ability to rapidly climb up trees smothering the foliage and eventually killing the trees. It can also cover bushland floors preventing any native plants from regenerating.
A very well adapted weed, the cat’s claw creeper develops tubers on its roots which allow it to survive for long periods in the soil along with its abundant winged seeds from long narrow pods which open and enable it to spread by wind and water.
How can you help?
If you have cat’s claw creeper on your property unfortunately the long term damage outweighs the beautiful yellow flowers. There are several ways you can control cat’s claw creeper.
It can be managed by:
- Physical – hand removal by digging out entire plant. The cats claw needs to have its tubers completely removed by digging down to the first tuber and excavating around it. Then remove all secondary tubers and check for regrowth removing any additional tubers found. Ensure the tubers are disposed of carefully and try to minimised soil disturbance. (Beware tubers can grow as long as 40cm!)
- Chemical – Use Roundup or Vigilant Gel:
1. CUT, SCRAPE, PAINT. Vines thicker than finger cut 1-2m above ground, (ideally before the flowers start to appear) leave aerial stems to die.
2. Peel the vines off the host, (leave remaining vine in tree).
3. Cut the stem close to the ground; apply herbicide immediately using a poison pot and brush or applicator bottle with sponge containing herbicide Glyphosate 1:1.5 water, then lightly scrape sides of stem using a knife and apply herbicide immediately.
- Bio control methods. Three biocontrol agents for cat’s claw creeper have been released in Australia: Leaf-mining jewel beetle, Leaf-sucking tingid and Leaf-tying moth. These can be practical in difficult to reach areas, where it would be hard or impossible to physically remove the weed.
If you require further information on cat’s claw creeper or other invasive species, please contact us on 3398 8003 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find further information at the BCC weed identification page.
Video from SEQ Catchments: