28 Sep 2009

Whangarei's mystery plant identified

6:36 pm on 28 September 2009

A mystery plant found growing wild in Whangarei has been identified as a passion flower from Central America.

Biosecurity experts fear the vine poses a new threat to native forest, because it spreads fast, grows into the canopy of trees, and smothers them.

The Northland Regional Council says the plant is mostly confined to a 4ha patch of forest near Kamo, but one sample has been found in Kaitaia.

MAF Biosecurity is working with the council on a mission to wipe out the vine, and is asking the public to keep an eye out for it.

The plant, called Passiflora apetala , has glossy bright green leaves, small light-coloured flowers and black inedible berries the size of grapes.