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Green Pages: Time ripe to get rid of smothering vine

Flagstaff Team

Time to act… Moth plants are invasive vines that strangle native trees and shrubs and now, when they are flowering, is the best time to pull them out, volunteer Hilary Miller told a Milford workshop

Now is the perfect time to get on top of a common invasive weed, which means a group of Milford residents given training on its eradication can get stuck in immediately.

Moth plant, a vine that smothers native trees and bushes, is flowering, which makes it easy to see, biosecurity volunteer Hilary Miller told a workshop organised by the Milford Residents Association last week.

At this time of year, the plant can be pulled up by its shallow roots, or cut, and the stump tips painted with bamboo-killing poison. There’s no need to haul the vine out of its host plants, if the roots are dug or pulled out or cut and poisoned. When it is covered in pods, those need to be removed – a tougher job.

The pods, which look like chokos, contain hundreds of seeds, which are poisonous and can spread up to 20 kilometres by wind when they open, Miller said.

Those attacking the plant need to wear gloves and old clothes with long sleeves, as the sap is sticky and the pods contain a “horrible white sap”, which can irritate skin, especially children’s, she said.

The pods should be placed in general rubbish, as they will sprout again in home compost systems.

Pretty peril… The moth plant has large oval pods that look like chokos, and white and pink flowers from December to May

Similarly, if the vine is hauled out without uplifting the root system or poisoning the stumps, it will sprout back quickly.

It is important the poison is strong enough to kill the plant. It should contain picloram gel, glyphosate gel or glyphosate mix of 140ml per litre of water, or triclopyr at 60ml per litre of water.

For larger infestations (usually on bare soil), spray seedlings with triclopyr (60ml per 10 litres of water) or glyphosate (140ml per 10 litres of water).

An Auckland Council pamphlet handed out at the workshop, says: “Revisit the site to deal with any regrowth, and aim to revegetate the area with grass or plants to prevent further seedling germination. Read the label thoroughly on pesticides and follow all safety instructions.”

Poison or tools can be borrowed by contacting Takapuna North environmental coordinator Fiona Martin via email at: enviro@takapunatrust.org.nz.

To find out about upcoming events in the local area and learn about environmental efforts and issues around the country, see the North Shore Birdsong Project Facebook page.