Banana Passionfruit - A Tantalisingly tasty fruit but terribly tenacious weed

Passiflora tarminiana in flower and fruit
Passiflora tarminiana in flower and fruit

Banana Passionfruit (Passiflora tarminiana) is a vigorous hardy vine that has been found growing on the Dorrigo Plateau. Banana Passionfruit prefers growing along roadsides and buffer zones, encroaching on and smothering desired vegetation, making this plant a threat to the natural areas in our Shire including the adjacent Dorrigo National Park and Bellinger River National Park.

Banana Passionfruit is named for the yellow; oval shaped fruit which looks similar to a small banana. The fruit contains edible orange pulp and many black seeds, which readily germinate. The plant has shiny green three lobed leaves and large pink flowers with yellow and white centres.

While the plant, and in particular the fruits, may be considered desirable, Banana Passionfruit is capable of killing trees by climbing to the top of the canopy (up to 10m) then sending tendrils laterally and thereby shading out the host trees; in turn reducing local biodiversity and suppressing native plant germination.

Bellingen Shire Council’s General Manager, Liz Jeremy said, ‘Banana Passionfruit is now regarded as a new and emerging weed for the Bellinger Shire and so Council will undertake control efforts on public roadsides and reserves during Spring 2016 while effective containment of this weed is still achievable’.

Each plant has a life span of up to 20 years and it only takes one year to grow to maturity and produce fruit, with each fruit producing an estimated 150 seeds. This makes Banana Passionfruit a potentially very successful weed that is capable of rapidly establishing heavy infestations. The fruit is on the menu for many species such as foxes, pigs, mammals and a wide range of birds; unfortunately people are also known to move the fruit causing further spread and establishment of new infestations.

Wild occurrences of this aggressive garden escapee are spreading at an unprecedented rate in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and New Zealand. Originating from areas of higher altitudes in South America this plant is genetically equipped to adapt well to the Dorrigo Plateau and become an extensive weed issue.

“While Council will continue undertaking control works to manage this weed on public land, we are asking for landholders to be vigilant and to contact Council should they suspect they have seen this plant on their property or surrounds. Working together, it is possible to stop the spread of this invasive vine that threatens our local area including world heritage Gondwana Rainforest”, added Ms Jeremy.

If you believe you have seen this plant or would like more information please contact Council’s Invasive Plants Officer on 6655 7300.