Chilean flame creeper

Common name:  Chilean flame creeper
Scientific name:  Tropaeolum speciosum
Management programme:  Site-led

Why is it a pest?

Chilean flame creeper can climb to canopy (upper layer of the forest) height and reduce light levels, causing smothering of bush areas and stopping native species establishing. It can be well spread by birds and it survives in warm to cold temperatures, salt, wind, many soil types, and damp to dry conditions.

What does it look like?

Chilean flame creeper is a climbing plant with a thick, well-developed root system. It has thin stems with curling tendrils (spiral threadlike leaves) and watery sap. The light green leaves have five leaflets and it has single, tubular scarlet flowers with five irregular petals, with the bottom three having a very slim claw. After flowering it has a thin, fleshy, deep blue seed capsule made up of three round parts.

When can I spot it best?

Chilean flame creeper flowers appear from November to April, which can make the plant easier to identify.

What are the rules?

There are no rules for landowners in Otago regarding Chilean flame creeper. Under Otago’s pest plan, Chilean flame creeper is only classified as a pest in the site-led areas; Otago Peninsula, West Harbour/Mt Cargill, Quarantine Island and Goat Island.

The goal is to progressively contain Chilean flame creeper in these areas, to prevent or improve on damage to the indigenous ecosystem at these sites.

How will we achieve that?

ORC will take a lead role in supporting the goals of community groups and agencies in site-led areas in relation to Chilean flame creeper. This may be through advice, education, funding, service delivery or requiring other landowners undertake to control when needed.

How can I control it?

  • Hand-pull all vegetation. It’s very hard to kill and no fully effective herbicide is known, however there are some options to try.
  • Cut and paste the stump near the ground using a suitable herbicide gel like Tordon BK containing either metsulfuron, triclopyr or glyphosate.
  • Foliage spray using a glyphosate-based product with penetrant and follow up every 6 months

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide PLEASE READ THE LABEL THOROUGHLY to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Disclaimer: Mention of product trade names does not endorse these products nor imply criticism of similar products not mentioned. The Otago Regional Council does not give any warranty that the information is accurate or complete or that it is suitable for all circumstances.

Management programme

Page last updated 26 June 2024.