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Book cover - Common Weeds of New ZealandAn Illustrated Guide to
Common Weeds
of New Zealand


Araujia sericifera
moth plant


Reproduced from
Common Weeds of New Zealand
by Ian Popay, Paul Champion & Trevor James
ISBN 0 473 09760 5
by kind permission of the
New Zealand Plant Protection Society

Publication or other use of images or descriptive text on these pages is unauthorised unless written permission is obtained from the authors and publisher.
Appropriate acknowledgement of the publication Common Weeds of New Zealand must always be given.

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Araujia sericifera - moth plant

Rapid-growing, vigorous perennial climber up to 5 m or more tall. Broken parts exude a sticky milky latex. White, fragrant, bell-shaped flowers, followed by large, pear-shaped pods containing kapok-like material surrounding the black seeds.

  • Flowers White, pinkish in bud, bell-shaped, fragrant, 20-25 mm in diameter, with five petals. Moths, butterflies and bees are attracted to and trapped in the flowers. Flowers Dec-May.
  • Fruit Large pear-shaped pods up to 10 cm long by 7 cm across, containing a mass of kapok-like pappus and many wind dispersed black seeds, each 7-8 mm long.
  • Leaves Dark green, thick, triangular, up to 12 cm long by 6 cm wide. Smooth on the upper surface and greyish-downy underneath.
  • Stems Downy, flexible, twining, scrambling to more than 5 m long.
  • Roots Rhizomatous.


Hedges, trees, stony banks, cliffs, unkempt areas and waste places.


Common in some parts of northern NI. Also found at Blenheim in SI. Originally from south Brazil and Argentina.


A garden escape, becoming increasingly common. Listed on the National Pest Plant Accord (see Introduction for details).

Derivation of botanical name

Araujia after Antonio de Matos Araujo, 19th cent. Portuguese plant collector; sericifera (Lat.) = silk-bearing (either of the seeds, or of the white hairs on young shoots and under the leaves).


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Web-notes: Weed Links

On this site

Reproduced from Common Weeds of New Zealand:

External Links

WeedbustersWeedbusters New Zealand
Weedbusters is a weeds awareness and education programme that aims to protect New Zealand's environment from the increasing weed problem.
A free tool to assist farmers and agricultural professionals in decision-making regarding weed and pest identification, biology, impact and management.
Weed keyNew Zealand Weeds Key
An interactive identification key to the weeds of New Zealand. Developed at Landcare Research.

New Zealand Plant Conservation Network naturalised plants
Search for information on more than 2500 naturalised and weedy plants.
NZ Plant Protection SocietyNew Zealand Plant Protection Society
Their main objective: "To pool and exchange information on the biology of weeds, invertebrate and vertebrate pests, pathogens and beneficial organisms and methods for modifying their effects."
Massey UniversityMassey University Weeds Database
A site providing information about New Zealand weeds and weed control. It has a series of pages showing pictures of New Zealand weeds, notes on identification and control. It also provides information on a university paper entitled Controlling Weeds.

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Last updated: March 1, 2021