Invasive Moth Vine

Published on April 28th 2020
A close up of a green plant
Scrolling through the Feed you might have noticed numerous posts asking for an identification of a strange, green, dangling fruit.
A group of banana s hanging from a tree
Moth Vine | Araujia sericifera. Photo by @herbhouse.
This is Araujia sericifera or Moth Vine native to South America. Other common names include Cape-dandelion, Peruvian-creeper, White Bladder Flower, Cruelplant, and Moth Catcher.
Araujia sericifera is commonly found in gardens and is a category 1b invasive species in South Africa which means you have to remove and destroy it immediately. It is found in Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape, Free State, Gauteng and Mpumalanga.
A green frog on a table
Photo by @Lola1990
The Moth Vine is an evergreen perennial climber with climbing stems that can reach up to 10 m in height if growing onto a support structure like a fence or taller vegetation. Araujia sericifera is very fast-growing and will smother vegetation that it uses for support, often girdling the branches of trees and shrubs. It also spreads on the ground to strangle groundcovers whilst also preventing the regeneration of overstory vegetation.
A green plant in a garden
Photo by @WallieBadenhorst
The Moth Vine bears fragrant flowers in the summer months, and after pollination forms large bluish-green fruits that look very similar to the chu-chu or Chayote fruit (Sicyos edulis). Seeds are produced in large amounts inside the fruit pod and are dispersed by wind. The Latin epithet 'sericifera’ means silk-bearing - referring to the silk-like hairs that surround the seeds contained within the fruit.
A hand holding a fruit
Fruit of Araujia sericifera | Moth Vine. Photo by AntReed.
A close up of a green plant
Silk-like tufts on Araujia sericifera seeds. Photo by @Robz.
When the stems snap or if any part of the plant is wounded or broken, the plant will exude a milky substance. This sap is poisonous and causes dermatitis or a burn sensation, so when removing this plant wear protective gear over your skin and eyes. Be sure to destroy the ripe pods first to prevent seeding.
A close up of a dog
Milky latex exuding from the broken stem of _Araujia sericifera_ (Moth Catcher). Photo by @Lola1990.
Don’t confuse the fruit of the Moth catcher with that of Ficus pumila (Tickey creeper) native to East Asia. Check out the posts below to compare Tickey creeper fruit:
Plant profile:

Community posts of the Moth Vine:

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