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Published: 2003-03-03 00:00:00

Environment Waikato is encouraging landowners to get out and destroy climbing and creeping plant pests in gardens and on farms.

Some of the worst climbing pests include old man’s beard, mignonette vine, climbing spindleberry and climbing asparagus.

Old man’s beard (Clematis vitalba) is a vigorous climbing vine that forms a tangled mass of vines over the top of desirable trees and shrubs, killing them by blocking out light. It has serrated leaves and creamy white and perfumed flowers and fluffy, pom-pom shaped seed heads. It is very fast growing, each stem producing up to 5-10 metres of new growth each season and more than 100,000 seeds a year on each vine. It can also reproduce from sections of stem.

Environment Waikato’s Regional Pest Management Strategy aims to eradicate all known sites of old man’s beard and prevent its spread. Sale, propagation or distribution of the plant is prohibited. All land owners/occupiers are responsible for removing old man’s beard. In some areas, where control is difficult (for example large infestations) Environment Waikato can help land owners/occupiers carry out a direct control programme.

Mignonette vine is a smothering climber with tubers, also called madeira vine, which has hanging fragrant white flowers and spreads easily from pieces of root and tubers. People may need help from Environment Waikato to identify this plant.

Climbing asparagus is a rampant scrambling plant with fern-like foliage and tiny white flowers found in forests, shrub land and coastal areas. It has fleshy orange fruit and is spread by birds, establishing under forest canopies, smothering other species and preventing native seedlings from establishing.

Climbing spindleberry is a perennial vine with clusters of small greenish yellow flowers and bright red berries. It is an aggressive invader of forest margins, disturbing native forest and strangling desirable plants.

Plant Pest Officers can provide information and advice on suitable herbicides and applications to control climbers and creepers. Environment Waikato supports the development of biological control for old man’s beard, and an agent which will help control it is being released at sites in the Region over the next five years.