The weedy Moth Vine (Araujia sericifera) looks very similar to the native Monkey Rope (Parsonsia straminea) and slightly resembles the native Snake Vine (Stephania japonica). At the same time, there are some easily recognisable differences.
1. Sap Moth Vine releases fairly large quantities of milky white sap appear whenever a leaf or stem is broken or damaged. Monkey rope has similar sap but in much smaller amounts while Snake Vine lacks white sap altogether.
Snake Vine (left), Monkey Rope (centre) and Moth Vine (right)
2. Leaves Moth Vine leaves are much lighter green and much softer looking than either of the native species. The shape of the Moth Vine leaf is also quite different. It is roughly forms an isosceles triangle and is about 3-5cm long.
Monkey Rope leaves are much longer while Snake Vine leaves are the shape of a fat tear-drop.
Monkey Rope flowers (left) and Moth Vine flowers (right)
3. Flowers Moth Vine has bell-shaped, four-petalled white flowers that occur individually and are about 1cm long. Monkey Rope however produces clusters of tiny, yellow flowers while Snake Vine produces clusters of tiny, white flowers.
4. Seed Pods Moth Vine seed pods look remarkably like chokos. Monkey Rope seed pods on the other hand are thin and up to 20cm long. Snake Vine fruits are vastly different to either vine as they are small, round berries that ripen from green to yellow to black.
Despite its name, Native Indian Weed (Sigesbeckia orientalis) is actually native to Australia. It closely resembles Cobbler’s Pegs and grows in identical conditions. In fact, it will be one of the first annuals to grow on a newly cleared site and will compete with Cobbler’s Pegs and other weeds. There are some differences between the two species.
1. Leaves Cobbler’s Pegs have light green leaves fine serrations and have multiple leaves growing off a single frond. Native Indian Weed however has blue-green leaves which grow directly from the stem and have small knobs along the leaves edges instead of serrations.
Native Indian Weed flower
2. Plant Size Native Indian Weeds are much bushier than Cobbler’s Pegs. Both plants reach the same height but Native Indian Weed will branch out much more than Cobbler’s Pegs which usually go straight upward.
3. Flowers and seeds Native Indian Weed has much smaller yellow flowers than Cobbler’s Peg. It also lacks the distinctive ‘peg’ and instead makes its seeds attach by means of a sticky coating all over its tiny, thin, green seed pod.
Cobbler's Peg (left in both images) and Native Indian Weed (right in both images)
Trad vs Native Trad
Trad (Tradescantia fluminensis), also known as Wandering Jew, is a spreading ground creeper that thrives in any moist environment whether in full shade or full sun. It is an aggressive weed in the right conditions and will prevent native seedlings from getting established because of its shear density. Native Trad (Commelina diffusa) the other hand is far less aggressive and grows far less densely. While both species of Trad look similar there are some distinct differences. 1. Leaves Wandering Jew has much broader leaves than native trad. Both are lanceolate shaped but that leaf of Wandering Jew is nearly twice as broad at the base as the leaf of the native species. In fact, the base of the Wandering Jew leaf is close to half as wide as the leaf is long. On the contrary, the leaves of native trad remain fairly narrow throughout their length. Another distinguish feature is the funnel shaped new leaves at the tip of the Wandering Jew stem. New growth on native trad rarely has such an obvious funnel shape.
Native Trad flower
2. Stems Wandering Jew has green stems whereas native trad often has reddish stems.
3. Flowers Wandering Jew has white, three-petalled flowers with each petal being triangular in shape. By contrast, native trad has three-petalled blue flowers with each petal being nearly round.
Kangaroo Apple vs Datura
Kangaroo Apple growth in a newly cleared area
The native Kangaroo Apple (Solanum aviculare) is a mid-sized, fast growing member of the nightshade family. It grows throughout the Shoalhaven and Illawarra and in areas with full sun, fertile soil and a reasonable quantity of moisture. At Bangalee, it can typically be found along the river flats either rising above the lantana or colonising recently cleared sites. It sprouts in early spring and dies back the following winter. Daturas (Datura stramonium), also known as Jimson Weeds, are an invasive species that typically colonise similar areas to Kangaroo Apples. Also a member of the nightshade family, Daturas look quite similar to their native cousins, especially in the early stages of growth.
Kangaroo Apples can be distinguished from Daturas in several ways.
Datura leaves (left) and Kangaroo Apple leaf (right)
1. Leaves Kangaroo Apples are can be identified by their large, nine pronged leaf. Eight prongs are directly opposite each other while the ninth points outwards at right angles to the other eight. On the contrary, the leaf of a Datura looks a lot more like and oak leaf than a Kangaroo Apple leaf. It lacks the distinct prongs of the Kangaroo Apple. The different leaf is particularly obvious in adult plants but even young Daturas have noticeably less prong structure than young Kangaroo Apples. Datura seedlings also have two long, thin leaves directly under the newer, adult leaves.
Datura flower (left) and Kangaroo Apple flower (right)
2. Flowers Kangaroo Apples flower in late spring producing masses of small, purple flowers on the ends of their branches. Being a nightshade, the flowers look very similar to potato flowers.
Daturas on the other hand, produce single trumpet-shaped flowers from their stems. These flowers can range from white to deep purple in colour.
3. Fruits Third, by mid-summer, Kangaroo Apple flowers give way to green, olive-like fruit. These steadily become deep orange as they ripen. Kangaroo Apple is a nightshade and is therefore very poisonous. DO NOT CONSUME.
Datura seed pods are vastly different in appearance. They are large pods covered with a spiky surface. As they dry out, they split and release all the seeds.
Kangaroo Apple fruits (left) and Datura seed pod (right)
4. Height Kangaroo Apples grow up to 4 metres high. They are a fairly woody plant and resemble small trees once fully mature. Conversely, Daturas rarely exceed 1 metre and instead have softer, reddish coloured stems.
Native Passionfruit vs Feral Passionfruits
Native Passionfruit (left), subpeltata (centre) and caerulea (right)
There are a few features of native passionfruit (Passiflora herbertiana) that distinguishes it from the two varieties of feral passionfruit.
1. Leaves Native passionfruit has dark-green leaves unlike caerulea and subpeltata which are mid-green and light-green respectively.
Native passionfruit does have three-lobed leaves but the splits between the lobes are much shallower than in either of the feral species. The leaves also are slightly convex towards the top.
2. Flowers Native passionfruit flowers are much less ornate than the flowers of their feral counterparts. Each native passionfruit flower has five, long, thin outer petals arranged equidistant from each other. In between those petals are five, much shorter petals. The inner petals of the flower are also much less distinct and the stamen is much smaller. Native passionfruit flowers are usually white but often have streaks of pink or red through them, particularly on the outer petals.
3. Fruits Native passionfruit fruits are dark-green and can have slight ridges going from the top to the bottom. This contrasts with the light-green, powdery look of subpeltata fruits and the bright orange appearance of caerulea fruits.
Bleeding Heart vs Coral Tree
Bleeding Heart leaves and fruits
Bleeding Heart (Homalanthus populifolius) is a very common rainforest tree throughout the Shoalhaven and Illawarra. It doesn’t usually grow particularly large with heights of less than 8 metres being the norm. Coral trees (Erythrina X sykesii) are also very common throughout the region and are usually found on farms where they were traditionally used to stabilise creek beds and other water courses. Coral trees are a highly invasive species with an aggressive, suckering root system and incredible survivability. They grow anywhere where they have access to water but are also extremely drought tolerant. As an example of their toughness, cut or broken branches left on the ground won’t rot but will almost certainly set root and become new trees. Overall, Coral trees can be a very challenging weed to remove. Bleeding Heart trees look similar to Coral trees but there are some major differences.
Coral Tree leaves
1. Height Bleeding Heart trees are small (3-7m) whereas Coral trees reach up to 20 metres high.
2. Deciduous Coral trees are deciduous whereas Bleeding Heart trees are not.
3. Flowers Coral trees produce hundreds of red, tubular flowers at the tips of their stems just before the new leaves start to grow in spring. Bleeding Heart trees however produce long, thin strings covered in tiny, yellow flowers.
4. Leaves Bleeding Heart trees have slightly different leaves from Coral trees. While both leaves are the shape of large tear-drops, Bleeding Heart leaves at around 5-6cm are smaller than Coral tree leaves at about 10-12cm. Bleeding Heart leaves are usually blue-green whereas Coral tree leaves are plain green. The most obvious distinguishing feature between the two species is the occasional red leaf on the Bleeding Heart tree. Coral trees completely lack the sporadic, red leaves.
5. Thorns The final difference is that Coral trees have thorns reminiscent of rose thorns whereas Bleeding Heart does not.