CHOCOLATE VINE is adored for its strong vanilla-scented flowers and seemingly benign growth habit, but there’s an important reason why it is now banned from sale, propagation and distribution within New Zealand.
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 it prefers 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. The main methods of spread are by way of stem fragments and seed dispersal by birds.
It’s easy to spot at this time of year with its clusters of demure, vanilla-scented brownish-purple flowers which appear from August to October, and these are occasionally followed by cream, flattened sausage-like pods (8-9cm long) which contain a pulpy core with many tiny black seeds.