South Africa

General description

Scrambling or twining perennial herb < 3 m. Roots are densely clustered, white, fleshy and tuberous. Stems are thin, twisted, wiry and branched. Leaves are broadly oval, pointed and < 35 x 15 mm. Flowers are green/white and borne in July – August. Fruits are round, red berries.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • You must not breed, distribute, release or sell smilax. As smilax is a National Pest Plant Accord species, these restrictions apply within the Auckland region and across the whole of New Zealand.
  • You must not plant smilax within the Auckland region, unless you are transferring an existing plant on your land to another location within the boundaries of the same property.
  • You must destroy any smilax on land that you occupy if it has been planted in breach of the above rules and you are directed to do so by an authorised person.
Auckland Council will manage smilax at all sites within the Aotea/Great Barrier Island group where it is known to occur.

If you see smilax anywhere on Aotea/Great Barrier Island group, please report it to Auckland Council at

Disturbed forest, forest margins, wasteland, hedgerows, roadsides, coastal areas.

Seeds dispersed by birds. Vegetative spread from tubers, dispersed by soil and water movement.

Forms dense stands, smothering low growing plants and seedlings. May obstruct access to recreational areas.

Site Management

Cut and pull vines away from desirable trees and native plants before foliar spraying. Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Encourage natural regeneration of native plants or replant treated areas where possible after 2-3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion.

Recommended approaches

Do not attempt to undertake control of this species on Aotea/Great Barrier Island group. Please report to Auckland Council if seen on Aotea/Great Barrier Island group.

Physical control

Method: Dig out

Plant parts requiring disposal: Tubers, rhizomes and seeds

Disposal options: Rot tubers, rhizomes and seeds in covered water barrel or remove to greenwaste or landfill


Check for presence of agents:
Smilax rust (Puccinia mysiphylli) - Self-introduced.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

No qualifications
Foliar spray with 200ml glyphosate green per 10L of water

Basic Growsafe certified
Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user
Foliar spray with 200ml glyphosate green per 10L of water and 10ml penetrant
Do not add penetrant when spraying against tree trunks

CAUTION: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Similar species

scrambling lily
Geitonoplesium cymosum

Scrambling lily's leaves are longer, narrower and more spread out on the stems and are not glossy. The berries are green ripening to black.

climbing asparagus
Asparagus scandens

Climbing asparagus cladodes are narrow and are arranged usually at 3 per stem node.

RPMP status

Aotea (Progressive Containment)
Whole region (Sustained Control)
National Pest Plant Accord Species
Smilax - Main species image