Antigonon leptopus or coral vine is an invasive species that has increased in abundance in recent years in south and central Florida. It is listed as a Category II invasive exotic by the Florida’s Exotic Pest Plant Council. This species is native to Mexico and is often grown as a landscape plant in the southeast and Gulf regions of the United States. Coral vine is grown in the landscape as an ornamental, typically used for its vining habit to cover fences or climb trellises. It tolerates poor soil and a wide range of light conditions, making it a very successful invasive plant species.
Coral vine is a fast growing climbing vine that holds via tendrils, and is able to reach 25 feet or more in length. It has cordate (heart shaped), sometimes triangular leaves are 2½ to 7½ cm long. The flowers are borne in panicles, clustered along the rachis, producing pink to white flowers from spring to fall. This species is a perennial and forms underground tubers and large rootstocks.
There are many methods of reproduction and dispersal that aid in the survival of coral vine. Not only is coral vine a prolific seed producer, but the seeds will float on water, dispersing the plant to new locations. Fruits and seeds are eaten and spread by wildlife such as birds, raccoons, and pigs. Underground tubers produced by coral vine will resprout if the plant is cut back or damaged by frost. Antigonon leptopus is a smothering vine that invades disturbed areas and forest edges, quickly covering nearby plants and structures.
The first step in preventative control of coral vine is to limit planting and removal of existing plants within the landscape. If possible, removal should occur before seeds are produced. Care must be exercised to prevent seed spread and dispersal during the removal process.
There is limited research and data on cultural control of coral vine.
There is limited research and data on mechanical control of coral vine. Continuous cutting will be effective in depleting food reserves, but this process will take several cycles. If plants are physically removed, underground tubers must be removed or plants will re-sprout.
There is limited research and data on biological control of coral vine.
According to the University of Guam’s Cooperative Extension Service, where coral vine is highly invasive, there are no herbicides registered for the use on coral vine. There is limited research and data on chemical control of coral vine. Spot treatment with glyphosate or triclopyr is the best recommendation at this point in time.
Langeland, K.A. and K. Craddock Burks. 1998. Identification and Biology of Non-Native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas. IFAS Publication SP 257. University of Florida, Gainesville. 165 pp.
Excerpted from the University of Florida, IFAS Extension, Circular 1529, Invasive Species Management Plans for Florida, 2008 by:
Greg MacDonald, Associate Professor Jay Ferrell, Assistant Professor and Extension Weed Specialist
Brent Sellers, Assistant Professor and Extension Weed Specialist
Ken Langeland, Professor and Extension Weed Specialist Agronomy Department, Gainesville and Range Cattle REC, Ona
Tina Duperron-Bond, DPM – Osceola County
Eileen Ketterer-Guest, former Graduate Research Assistant
1. Identification and Biology of Nonnative Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas – Second Edition, by K.A. Langeland, H.M. Cherry, et al. University of Florida-IFAS Publication # SP 257. 2008.
2. Strangers in Paradise, Impact and Management of Nonindigenous Species in Florida, Chapter 2: Florida’s Invasion by Nonindigenous Plants: History, Screening, and Regulation, by D.R. Gordon and K.P. Thomas, pp. 21-37. Island Press, Washington, DC, 1997.