Alternative common names:
Lamb’s tails, Mgnonette vine, Jalap, Potato vine
Madeira vine is a long-lived (perennial), twining or climbing plant growing over taller plants. The stems are hairless (glabrous) and grow in a twining fashion. Younger stems are green or reddish in colour and round in cross-section. They become rope-like in appearance and turn greyish-brown in colour as they mature. Distinctive greyish-brown or greenish-coloured warty tubers often form at the joints (nodes) along the older stems. These wart-like tubers are very characteristic.
Where does this species come from?South America (Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay
What is its invasive status in South Africa?NEMBA category 1b
Where in South Africa is it a problem?Eastern Cape Province, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Gauteng.
How does it spread?Spreads by large numbers of specialised aerial tubers that are produced along the stems. It also spreads vegetative by tuberous roots and creeping underground stems (rhizomes).
Why is it a problem?
Is highly invasive weed and is capable of smothering and destroying indigenous vegetation. The climbing stems can envelop the canopy layer, while is trailing stems also smother the ground layer of invaded habitats. This reduces light penetration, eventually killing the plants underneath and preventing the germination and regeneration of native plants.
What does it look like?
Leaves: The leaves are alternately arranged, slightly fleshy (semi-succulent) in nature, hairless (glabrous) and sometimes have a glossy appearance. They are borne on leaf stalks (petioles) 5-20 mm long and are more or less heart-shaped (cordate) or broadly egg-shaped with broad end at base (ovate). These leaves (2-15 cm long and 1.5-10 cm wide) either taper to a blunt point or have a somewhat rounded tip (acute or obtuse apex).
Flowers: Plants produce masses of drooping flower clusters (6-30 cm long) which arise from the forks (axils) of the upper leaves. Each flower cluster (raceme) bears numerous small, white or cream-coloured, fragrant flowers (about 5 mm across). These star-shaped flowers have five 'petals' (sepals or perianth segments) and are borne on short stalks (pedicels) 2-3 mm long. They also have five stamens and an ovary topped with a three-branched style and three tiny club-shaped stigmas. The petals (2-3 mm long) are fleshy, persistent; turn dark brown or black in colour with age.
Fruit/seeds: This plant does not produce fruit in Africa
Does the plant have any uses?
Used as an ornamental plant.