Balloon vine

Cardiospermum grandiflorum
Balloon vine: Cardiospermum grandiflorum Balloon vine: Cardiospermum grandiflorum

Common name:

Balloon vine

Scientific name:

Cardiospermum grandiflorum (Sapindaceae)

Alternative common names:

Heart pea; heart seed (English); blaasklimop; opblaasboontjie (Afrikaans); intandela, uzipho (isiZulu)

Balloon vine is a perennial, slightly woody climber with tendrils 2-5m or higher, often draping itself over trees. The stems are usually covered with bristly hairs. Bright green leaves are strongly serrated and sometimes hairy. White or yellow, fragrant flowers on compact heads appear from October to January. Membranous, inflated fruit capsules about 60mm long which are green turning brown

Additional Info

  • Where does this species come from?

    Tropical South America (Brazil and eastern Argentina)

    What is its invasive status in South Africa?

    Existing legislation: CARA 2002 – Category 1 Proposed legislation: NEMBA – Category 1b

    Where in South Africa is it a problem?

    Mostly the warmer parts of KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo Provinces

    How does it spread?

    Spreads mostly by seeds

    Why is it a problem?

    Overtops and smothers indigenous species, including large trees

    What does it look like?

    General description: A perennial, slightly woody climber with tendrils, growing 2-5 m or higher; often draping itself over trees and other support structures. Leaves: Strongly serrated triangular-shaped leaves, bright green in colour and somewhat hairy on the surface of the leaves. Flowers: White or yellow, in many-flowered and compact heads appearing between October-January, but throughout the year in tropical climates. Fruit/Seeds: Membranous, inflated fruit capsules about 60mm long are green turning brown and carry black, round seeds with an oblong white spot.

    Does the plant have any uses?

    Introduced for ornamental purposes

    Plant me instead alternatives

    Traveller’s joy (Clematis brachiata), canary creeper (Senecio tamoides), black-eyed susan (Thunbergia alata)