Auckland Council is urging the public to be on the lookout for an invasive vine that can smother and strangle native vegetation and has been found in Omaha and Tāwharanui.
The fast-growing bat-wing passion flower (passiflora apetala), native to Central America, was introduced here as an ornamental variety, but was later designated as an invasive species.
The Ministry for Primary Industries describes it as “a shade-tolerant vine that has distinctive bat wing shaped leaves that may have a pale green strip along the midrib. It has small yellow or light green flowers and produces prolific berries the size of small grapes, which are highly attractive to birds, thus dispersing the seeds widely in their droppings.
“Bat-wing passion flower is very invasive, with the ability to smother, shade and strangle the vegetation it grows on.”
According to council pest plant advisor Lydia Starr, the weed first found in 2017 “keeps cropping up” at Tāwharanui in particular.
“We don’t want it moving and smothering other vegetation,” she said. “The faster we can locate and manage this pest plant, the more likely we can prevent it from spreading to offshore islands and establishing in parks and private land.”
Starr said council was managing the weed with the hope of containing it and eventually eradicating it.
Bat-wing passion flower is listed in the National Pest Plant Accord and its sale, propagation or distribution is banned under the Biosecurity Act.
Anyone coming across the plant is encouraged to report it to: firstname.lastname@example.org