Pest vine can kill natives

JESS ETHERIDGE
Last updated 05:00 31/01/2014
Moth Plant
NASTY BUSINESS: The moth plant flowers produce pods containing seeds, which are spread by wind when the ripe pods burst open. The vines of the moth plant suffocate native plants.

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Native trees are being suffocated by a pest vine which should banned, a volunteer says.

The moth plant is prolific on the North Shore and is flowering earlier this year, Northcote resident Adrienne Grace says.

For the last four years she has removed as many moth plants, also known as kapok or cruel plant, as she can.

Their vines suffocate anything they latch on to, Ms Grace says.

But with the vines flowering earlier this year she wants to encourage residents to rid their properties of it.

If the vines are not removed before April, the pods will burst and spread more than 500 seeds each, she says.

Sap from the plants can also stain clothes and irritate skin.

The best solution is wet the soil around the moth plant's roots, dig all of it up and dispose of it.

Alternatively, vine roots can be cut 6cm above ground, the bark scraped off and poison gel applied while wearing protective gear, Ms Grace says.

Landlords and tenants should check their properties every three months, she says, to prevent moth plants from taking hold - they can cover fences and trees.

Auckland Council biosecurity community co-ordinator Malcolm Harrison says moth plants are included in a surveillance category and are banned from sale, propagation and distribution.

But no-one legally enforces this, he says. The plants are bad for the environment and the council encourages people to remove them.

Leen Auperle, who has helped Ms Grace remove moth plants for a couple years, says he sees a lot of the pest in Milford where he lives.

Ms Grace says dozens of Northcote and Takapuna properties are also covered in moth plant.

Volunteers to help remove the plants are needed. Call Adrienne on 480 0458 for more information.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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