WHIFFY WEED: The tendrils of the stinking passionflower produce an unpleasant odour.
WHIFFY WEED: The tendrils of the stinking passionflower produce an unpleasant odour. Contributed

Passionflower weed causing a stink in the environment

PASSIFLORA foetida is native to Southern USA, the Caribbean and South America.

Stinking passionflower (Passiflora foetida) is regarded as an environmental weed in Queensland, the Northern Territory, the coastal districts of Northern New South Wales, and northern Western Australia.

While less common in south-east Queensland than the other weedy passionfruit species (corky passion vine and white passionflower), stinking passionflower is an invasive environmental weed along river and creek banks, forest edges, crops, pastures, coastal vegetation, and roadsides.

If left uncontrolled, this environmental weed has the ability to increase its current distribution, spreading into other natural areas and becoming more invasive. While its ripe fruit are edible, its leaves contain cyanic acid and are thought to be poisonous to people and livestock.

This species reproduces by seed, which are most commonly spread by birds and bats which eat the ripe fruit.

Stinking passionflower is a climbing vine growing up to 9m high, densely covered in soft, sometimes sticky hairs. Its stems produce tendrils from the bases of the alternately arranged leaves and have an unpleasant odour and vary in hairiness from almost hairless to having a sparse or dense covering of white, yellow or golden brown sticky hairs.

At the base of each leaf stalk there is a tendril and a 1cm long threadlike appendage.

The leaves most often have three rounded or pointed lobes. These leaves (3-10.5 cm long and 3-10 cm wide) are alternately arranged along the stems and borne on stalks (i.e. petioles) 1-6 cm long.

The typical passionfruit-like flowers have cream petals, white, pink or purple centres borne singly in the leaf forks, and are from 3-5 cm across.

Flowering occurs mainly during autumn, winter and spring (i.e. from February to November).

The fruit are dry berries (1.5-4 cm long) partially enclosed by the persistent, deeply-divided, sticky bracts.

Hand pulling vines when the soil is moist is the most reliable form of control.

Herbicide control is difficult due to the sticky hairs on the leaves, stems, and fruit.

Ian Read can be contacted on 41599365, or email ian.read7@bigpond.com.au for free weed presentations/workshops to landowners and community groups, or for weed identification and control, native plants advice, erosion control advice, or landscaping advice.



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