Start controlling Moth Plant now
03 November 2016
Moth plant (or kapok plant, Araujia hortorum) is one of the most problematic weeds of kiwifruit orchards in the North Island. KVH received numerous enquiries about moth plant in late summer, when vines smothered shelter belts and the choko-like pods had formed, ready to split open in the winter to release hundreds of wind-dispersed seeds. Moth plant is poisonous – the milky white sap can cause dermatitis on contact with any exposed skin. Tangles of vines slow down orchard shelter trimmers, and vines harbour pests such as passion-vine hopper. Now is the time to weed out moth plant while it is still at the seedling stage. Seedlings have arrow-like leaves, often 6 to 10 cm long, on opposite sides of the stem. If you pull a leaf from the stem, the milky sap is a real giveaway that the plant is likely to be moth plant. For an organic control method; seedlings can be removed with a sharp hoe, or dug out with a spade. Be sure to wear overalls, gloves and eye protection. If using herbicide; glyphosate is effective on seedling plants – mix at a rate of one part glyphosate to 100 parts water plus a spreader such as Pulse (10 mls to 10 litres spray mix). Apply the glyphosate at low pressure, ideally via a knapsack sprayer, with a fan nozzle held as close to the moth plant seedlings as possible. If you’re serious about removing moth plant from your orchard, start your first round of control work now and avoid the need to pull masses of vines and pods out of the shelter belts from late summer. If you need help to identify moth plant, phone KVH or your local regional council. For more information on Moth Plant please click here. If you have come into contact with the sap from Moth Plant, contact the Poisons Centre on 0800 POISON.