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Rubber Vine (Cryptostegia grandiflora) is a woody-perennial vine native to south-west Madagascar. It is a significant weed in northern Australia, sometimes regarded, in fact, as the worst weed in all of Australia. It has also been introduced to most other tropical and subtropical regions by man because of its attractive flowers and the fact that its latex contains commercial quality rubber (hence the name). It is now naturalised in the Caribbean, East Africa, Mauritius, India, Southeast Asia, Latin America, the southern United States, Fiji and New Caledonia.
Additional recommended knowledge
Seeds germinate after the first rains of the wet season, but growth does not become rapid until well after the wet season begins. However, if enough water is available rubber vine can grow as much as five metres in one month. Flowering usually occurs after the wet season ends, along with fruit set. It is usual to find both mature and immature fruit on rubber vine at any one time, however.
Rubber vine seeds are dispersed by winds and flooding, this being particularly important in Australia where very large river floods can occur.
As a weed in Australia
Rubber vine can grown up to 2 metres (m) tall as a shrub, but when it is supported on other vegetation as a vine it can reach up to 30 m in length. Rubber vine prefers areas where annual rainfall is between 400 and 1400 millimetres (mm), and is well adapted to a monsoonal climate. The fact that it can grow maximally on an annual rainfall of 1700 millimetres but seeds best on an annual rainfall of 400 millimetres or less means rubber vine thrives on - in fact requires - the extreme variability of rainfall and streamflow so characteristic of central Queensland. This extreme variability (four times that of other countries to which it has been introduced) is almost certainly why rubber vine has became a major weed in Australia and not any other country in which it has been introduced.
Rubber vine is believed to have a potential range in Australia from about Coen in Cape York Peninsula to Port Hedland in the Pilbara, but has not yet moved much beyond Queensland. It is a major threat to gallery forests along rivers in northern Australia because it can strangle and kill the native trees by climbing over them and completely eliminating access to light. It can also do the same thing in savanna woodlands away from watercourses. Rubber vine is also extremely toxic to all livestock: less than 10 g of rubber vine leaves can kill a 400 kilogram horse within six days, and it is also highly toxic to cattle, sheep and goats. However, it is extremely unpalatable and only causes death in dry seasons when green grass is very scarce.
Control of rubber vine has relied on importing biological agents from its native habitat in southwestern Madagascar, the most important of which is the "rubber vine rust", Maravalia cryptostegiae. In some areas near Charters Towers, this rust has infected most rubber vine plants, but its effect has not been great enough to stop the spread of the plant westwards. The "rubber vine moth", Euclasta whalleyi, was introduced earlier than the rust (in 1988) but has not proved very effective. The extreme remoteness of most rubber vine infestations rules out mechanical or chemical control for dealing with the plant.
They mention this in King Leopold Ghost book.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Rubber_Vine". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|