Sweet but deadly
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 sausagelike pods containing a pulpy core with many tiny black seeds.
Unfortunately, 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 main methods for the plant to spread are by way of stem fragments and seed dispersal by birds.
Chocolate vine has recently been banned from sale and landowners in the Waikato are required to destroy it when they find it on their properties.
Dig out any small vines and seedlings, making sure that you remove the root system, and dispose of them 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 suitable herbicide.
Weed Watch is supplied by Waikato Regional Council.