- Green vine with green triangular leaves 3-11cm long, plant up to 5m long with clusters of pink-white flowers. Large green ribbed fruit resemble 'chokos' and turn brown before splitting to shed masses of white cotton-like seeds.
- Size: Climber that can grow to 5m high.
- Leaves: Green triangular to Oval leaves 3-11 cm long, 1.5-6cm wide with pointy ends and curling edges. Scattered hairs on upper surface with lower surface smooth with minimal fine hairs.
- Flowers: Bell-shaped tubular flowers have five sepals (8-13mm long) and five petals (18-20 mm long) that are fused at the base. The tips of the sepals (i.e calyx lobes) and petals (i.e corolla lobes) are usually curved outwards or backwards. Flowers may be white or pale pink and sometimes have darker pink streaks in their throat. Flowers are borne in 2-5 flowered clusters (cymes), 2-2.5cm diameter.
- Fruits/seeds: The large fruit are egg-shaped or have a flattened base and resemble ‘chokos’. 6-10cm long, 5-7cm diameter, pale green colouring with thick ribbed walls. When mature, they become woody, turn brown in colour, and split lengthwise down one side to release hundreds of wind-borne seeds. These seeds (4-8 mm long) are blackish in colour and topped with a tuft of long white silky hairs (i.e. coma) 20-30 mm long.
What to Observe
- First fully open single flower
- Full flowering (record all days)
- End of flowering (when 95% of the flowers have faded)
- No flowering
- Open Seed pods (record all days)
ClimateWatch Science Advisor
We expect plants (including weeds) to start shooting and flowering earlier in the year as a result of climate change warming the Earth. They may also start appearing in new areas, as warmer temperatures enable them to live in environments that were previously too cold for them.
Climate change is also expected to worsen the impact of invasive species as ecosystems are more vulnerable to invasion when they are disturbed.
Help scientists answer the question: "How are our animals, plants and ecosystems responding to climate change?"
When To Look
Flowering occurs from Summer to Autumn
Where To Look
Invades damp sclerophyll forest, coastal and riparian vegetation, gardens, waste places, plantations, orchards, forest margins, roadsides and rainforests. Common around Victoria in inner Melbourne and Shepparton, also occurs in WA, SA, VIC, TAS, NSW, ACT, QLD.
Moth plant (Araujia sericifera) may occasionally be confused with the weedy tweedia (Oxypetalum caeruleum), the cultivated wax flower (Stephanotis floribunda) and the native common milk vine (Marsdenia rostrata). These species may be distinguished by the following differences:
- moth plant (Araujia sericifera) has finely hairy young stems and leaves with whitish, finely hairy, undersides. Its flowers are white, cream or pale pink and relatively large with short tubes (corolla tubes 8-14 mm long, corolla lobes 5-10 mm long). The large fruit (6-12 cm long and 3-7 cm wide) are pear-shaped, rather broad, and resemble 'chokos'.
- tweedia (Oxypetalum caeruleum) has densely hairy young stems and leaves with hairy undersides. Its flowers are bright blue and moderately-sized (corolla tubes 4-5 mm long, corolla lobes 9-12 mm long). The long fruit are relatively slender (8-11 cm long) and cigar-shaped.
- wax flower (Stephanotis floribunda) has hairless young stems and leaves that are entirely hairless. Its flowers are pure white and relatively large with long tubes (corolla tubes 25-50 mm long, corolla lobes 5-10 mm long). The large fruit (7.5-10 cm long) are egg-shaped (i.e. ovoid) or slightly elongated in shape.
- common milk vine (Marsdenia rostrata) has hairless or sparsely hairy young stems and leaves that are entirely hairless. Its flowers are cream or whitish and relatively small (corolla tubes 1.5-2.5 mm long, corolla lobes 3.5-5 mm long). The large fruit (5-7 cm long) are egg-shaped (i.e. ovoid) or slightly elongated in shape.
It is also similar to other native milk vines (Marsdenia spp.) and the silkpods (Parsonsia spp.), many of which all have milky sap and opposite leaves. However, these species usually have smaller yellowish flowers and their fruit are generally long and narrow in shape.
Did You Know?
- Also called ‘Cruel Plant’ as it catches butterflies and moths. This species is considered to be poisonous to livestock (e.g. cattle), domestic animals (e.g. poultry and dogs) and humans. Contact with its milky sap also causes skin and eyes irritations, and occasionally severe allergic reactions in susceptible people.
- It is native to South America (i.e. Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay).
- Moth vine (Araujia sericifera) is regarded as a significant environmental weed in New South Wales and Queensland, and a minor environmental weed in Victoria and South Australia.