Avoid death by chocolate
Fragrantly scented it may be but chocolate vine is certainly no sweetie when it comes to the environment.
Chocolate vine is a climber from central Asia with leaflets that form a hand shape and clusters of chocolate-purple coloured flowers that smell like vanilla. Its fruits are flattened sausage-like pods containing a pulpy core with many tiny black seeds.
Chocolate vine grows rapidly, forming a thick, tangled mat that completely smothers other plants. If it lacks a climbing support, it will spread over the ground.
Although preferring partial shade and cool, moist soil, it has proven to be tolerant of a wide range of other conditions including full sun, drought, frost and all soil types. It means the Waikato is a perfect environment for it.
The plant spreads by stem fragments and seed dispersal by birds. It has been banned from sale and landowners in the Waikato are required to destroy it when they find it on properties.
Dig out any small vines and seedlings, making sure you remove root system, and dispose at a refuse transfer station. With larger vines, you can cut the stems at ground level and keep cutting them throughout growing periods.
Larger infestations can be sprayed with a herbicide. Visit waikatoregion.govt.nz/chocolatevine or weedbusters.org.nz for more control details.
To replace chocolate vine try the native jasmine akakiore (Parsonsia heterophylla) or kohia (Passiflora tetrandra). For nonnative alternatives, try the attractive purple coral pea (Hardenbergia violacea) or Chilean jasmine (Mandevilla laxa).
-Supplied by Waikato Regional Council.
Chocolate vine pods. The pest plant is a climber from central Asia.