Chocolate vine or akebia
Also known as
Where is it originally from?
Central China to Korea and Japan
What does it look like?
Deciduous, twining climber and vigorous groundcover that can be evergreen in mild climates. Slender, round stems are green when young and brown when mature. Leaves made up of five or less oval leaflets (3-6 x 2-4 cm) creating a hand shape are on long stalks (<12 cm) and have a purplish tinge that becomes blue-green at maturity. Flowers (25 mm across) are chocolate-purple coloured with the scent of vanilla or chocolate, and hang in clusters (5-10 cm long, Aug-Oct) of 6-8 flowers may be followed by purple-violet, flattened sausage-like pods (8-9 cm long) filled with a whitish pulp surrounding many tiny black seeds.
Why is it weedy?
Grows very rapidly, producing so many stems that it forms a thick, tangled mat that covers other plants. Forms a thick groundcover if it doesn't have anything to grow up, smothering seedlings and stopping other plants establishing. It spreads by stem fragments, and birds also spread the seed. Tolerates a wide range of conditions from full sun to shade, drought and frost, sandy to clay soils, and acid or alkaline soils.
How does it spread?
Predominantly vegetative spread, growing up to 6-14m in a single growing season, plus bird-dispersed seed.
What damage does it do?
Quickly smothers, outcompetes and kills herbs and seedlings, shrubs and young trees. Once established, its dense growth prevents seed germination and establishment of seedlings of native plants.
Which habitats is it likely to invade?
Prefers partial shade and well-drained yet moist soil, such as in riparian zones, forest edges, wetlands and urban areas.
What can I do to get rid of it?
1. Dig out individual vines and hand pull seedlings (all year round): remove root system, dispose of material at refuse transfer station.
2. Cut stems (spring-summer): cut at ground level, then repeat throughout growing season.
3. Overall spray large infestations (spring-summer): knapsack spray with glyphosate (300ml/15L + penetrant) or triclopyr 600 EC (60ml/10L + penetrant).
What can I do to stop it coming back?
Monitor the site and treat regrowth from roots and seedlings. Search out and remove the source of the infestation. Where appropriate replant the site with local native species.