Macfadyena unguis-cati

Cat's claw creeper

Family: Bignoniaceae

Origin: Central and South America

Close up of cats claw creeper flower.
The plant's fruit is elongated, flattened capsules. At first, they are green and on maturity turn a dark brown.
Photo credit: Weedbusters

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • National Pest Plant Accord Species
  • Whole region — Sustained control

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Vigorous perennial climbing vine. Stems are branched, angled, < 10 m long, < 2 cm in diameter and woody at the base, with hook-like branch tips. Leaves are complete, oval and < 12 x 5 cm.

Flowers are large, fragrant, bell-shaped, green turning to purple, and borne in December – May. Fruit is hard, oval and green, and contained winged seeds.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • You must not breed, distribute, release or sell cat's claw creeper. As cat’s claw creeper 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 cat's claw creeper 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 cat's claw creeper 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.


Scrub, forest, riparian habitats, roadsides, shelterbelts, hedgerows, orchards, disturbed areas, coastal cliffs.


Seeds dispersed by wind, water and soil movement. Vegetative spread from stem fragments. Human-mediated dispersal through dumping of garden waste.

Impact on environment

Smothers trees and causes canopy collapse, or forms a dense groundcover mat suppressing native vegetation regeneration.


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

Physical control

Method: Dig out.

Plant parts requiring disposal: All parts (except vines if left to die in trees).

Disposal options: Remove to greenwaste or landfill if practical.


Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

No qualifications:

For small infestations: Cut stump and paste freshly cut base of stems with glyphosate gel. Cut stump and spray freshly cut base with 100ml glyphosate green per 1L of water.

Basic Growsafe certified:

For medium infestations: Cut vines at waist height and foliar spray vines on the ground with 100ml glyphosate green per 10L of water.

Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user:

For large infestations: Foliar spray with 100ml glyphosate green per 10L of water and 20ml penetrant.

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

Close up of the yellow flower of cats claw creeper.
Flowers are yellow with five petal lobes each about 1-2cm long.
Photo credit: Weedbusters
Wall of cat claw creeper.
The growing young stems are green in colour. They gain support when climbing with claw-like leaf tendrils.