Native to: Eastern and southern Asia
Introduced to the USDA Field Station at Brooksville, Florida, as a potential fiber crop in the late 19th century. By 1916 it was noted as troublesome in the surrounding area and by 1977 it was recognized as a significant invasive species. It has also escaped cultivation in Hawaii, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, the Carolinas and internationally in South America, the Mascarene Islands and the Pacific Islands. The common name refers to a foul odor that comes from its leaves which contain sulfur compounds. It is closely related to the less widespread invasive plant sewer vine (Paederia cruddasiana) which is thought to have been introduced at the same time.
Habit: perennial twining vine from a woody rootstock.
Leaves: opposite (rarely in whorls of 3), oval to lance-shaped, and often lobed at the base. They grow 2–11 cm (1–4.3 in) long with conspicuous stipules (appendages at bases of leaves), and have leaf margins without teeth. The leaf surfaces can be hairy or non-hairy.
Flowers: small and grayish pink or lilac in color. The flowers form in broad or long, "leafy," curving clusters. Petals join to form a tube (corolla), with usually five spreading lobes (the corolla is dense and hairy).
Fruit/seeds: shiny brown and nearly round, growing to 0.7 cm (0.3 in) wide. Each fruit has two seeds that are black, roundish, and often dotted with white, needle-shaped crystals.
Distribution in Florida: throughout central and north Florida with more limited distribution reported in South Florida.
It produces seeds that are dispersed by wildlife. Also, Stems that are in contact with the soil readily develop adventitious roots at the nodes, and each stem fragment with a node is capable of developing into a new plant. Rooted stem fragments may be transported by construction machinery, in fill dirt and in nursery stock. Skunkvine is able to survive in a variety of Florida habitats including hardwood, mixed, and pine forests, sandhill, and floodplain forest and marsh. The dense layer of vegetation created by skunkvine can both damage and kill native vegetation. Climbing vines can engulf and cover trees and shrubs. The weight of the vine mass climbing over vegetation can cause branches or entire trees to break or collapse. Crawling vines can form a dense layer of vegetation, smothering many shrubs and other plants growing in the understory. These impacts reduce plant diversity and alter forest succession.
Do not plant. Clean any equipment and gear when leaving infested areas.
Cut vine in canopy so that stems cannot reach the ground and dig out root system – very labor intensive. Care should be taken in plant disposal as stem fragments can take root and seeds can germinate in plant litter piles.
Mowing and tillage will provide some measure of control but are impractical in most situations and are not often recommended due to high cost and level of habitat disturbance.
Foliar: 0.15–0.25% Milestone, 1–3% Garlon 3A, 2% Garlon 4, or 1–1.5% Plateau. Thoroughly wet foliage. Homeowners can use Brush-B-Gon or Brush Killer at maximum label rates. Cut stump: 10% Garlon 4. These herbicides are systemic (move throughout plant tissue) so care must be exercised to minimize off-target damage. If skunkvine is growing up into trees or other desirable species, vines should be cut or pulled down to minimize damage to the desirable vegetation. Pulling the vines down without severing them from the root crown will allow the herbicide to move into the root and provide better control. The best time to apply an herbicide is in the spring and summer when skunkvine is actively growing. Be sure to allow adequate time for the plant to regrow from the winter to ensure movement of the herbicide back into the roots. (As plants grow and mature, they begin to move sugars back into the roots). Consult your local UF IFAS Extension for further assistance with management recommendations. Additional information can be found in the EDIS Publication Integrated Management of Non-Native Plants in Natural Areas of Florida.
UF IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas
View records and images from University of Florida Herbarium