Otago Peninsula Community Board member Paul Pope examines some of the banana passionfruit plant. Photo by Jonathan Chilton-Towle
Many people consider passionfruit a delicacy best served with
ice cream or cheesecake but on Otago Peninsula it has become
a serious threat to native bush.
The banana passionfruit plant, which has pink flowers and
fruit that resembles small egg plants, is a common sight
alongside Portobello Rd and it is overwhelming the other
plants that grow there.
Otago Peninsula Board member Paul Pope said the peninsula was
an important scenic and biologically diverse area, and if not
for the passionfruit the roadsides could be home to totara,
ngaio and other native plants.
''It's been a problem for years,'' he said.
Mr Pope hoped to see some kind of co-ordinated complementary
approach to eradicate the weed. According to the Department
of Conservation website, banana passionfruit is a vigorous
climber, often growing several metres in height. There are
several varieties in the wild and the plant is closely
related to the type of passionfruit found in supermarkets.
The banana passionfruit plant was capable of smothering
forest margins and forest regrowth with its dense growth of
leafy vines, Doc said.
The common methods of controlling the plant are pruning and
Doc partnerships ranger John Barkla said banana passionfruit
had long been recognised as a serious weed.
It was particularly hard to deal with because it produced
fruit. Birds ate the fruit and dispersed the seeds over a
wide area through their droppings.
The department was focused on controlling the plant at
''high-value sites'' but it was too widespread to eliminate
everywhere without an enormous concerted effort involving
multiple organisations, he said.
''Ideally, we'd do it all but we have limited funds,'' Mr
Save The Otago Peninsula (S.T.O.P) trustee Moira Parker owns
a 36ha property on the peninsula with her husband which is
under two QEII covenants.
She has a constant battle to keep banana passionfruit off the
It was a common sight on Otago Peninsula, especially on the
warmer north-facing side. As well as being on the Portobello
Rd roadside, the weed had begun to establish itself on small
islands in the harbour such as Goat Island and Pudding
Island, she said.
S.T.O.P had several re-vegetation projects under way on the
peninsula and was constantly vigilant to ensure it did not
get into these areas, Mrs Parker said.
- by Jonathan Chilton-Towle