Dolichandra unguis-cati

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Cat's Claw CreeperWeed
Family: Bignoniaceae
Genus: Dolichandra
Synonym: Macfadyena unguis-cati
Common names: Cat’s Claw Creeper
ALA reference

This is a Weed of National Significance

This is a Class 3 Declared Pest in Queensland

With Ochna and Lantana, Cat’s Claw Creeper is one of the most damaging weeds in the Reserve. The cat’s claw biological control insects had been released into that area in December 2007 but by December 2008 it had become clear that they were not going to be effective in checking the rampant growth of the cat’s claw creeper. It was obvious that urgent action was needed if we were to save any of the trees or shrubs in that area. By that stage the cat’s claw had already destroyed about 90% of the understorey plants and 75% of the trees. Agreement was reached between the Council and the Alan Fletcher Research Centre that this cat’s claw could now be destroyed. Since then the cat’s claw has been cut from all the trees and poisoned and the ground cover of cat’s claw has been sprayed three times over a three year period with Roundup (glyphosate).

This is without doubt, the most destructive weed in the reserve and has already killed numerous large trees as well as countless smaller trees and shrubs. It is a native of South America and was introduced to Australia as a garden ornamental. It is an extremely hardy and vigorous climber and can tolerate low light situations as well as full sun. It derives its common name from the sharp three-clawed tendril which grows from the leaf base of the climbing stems. As well as climbing the trees it also forms thick mats of runners on the ground and the understorey plants. It produces spectacular short- lived yellow flowers in spring which are followed by long thin seed pods. These pods release prodigious quantities of seed which is dispersed here by the wind. The form we have here has yellow-orange flowers and much longer seed pods than the type species. It has underground tubers which are difficult to remove by digging. The best control method is to cut the thick stems close to the ground and then swab them with 100% Glyphosate within 15 seconds. The vigorously growing smaller plants and regrowth can be killed by spraying with Glyphosate at the rate of 13ml per litre of water. (January 2007)