The beauty of barbed-wire vine
  • Last updated:
  • 12 Mar 2019

Article by Danielle Outram, Conservation Partnerships Officer, Sunshine Coast Council and images by Ash Rowley, Land for Wildlife member  

Smilax australis (barbed-wire vine) is a species sometimes falsely accused of being a weed. Maybe it’s the barb-like prickles on the stems that offend or the tendrils that may remind folk of the weedy passion flowers, but for whatever reason it’s a species I frequently find myself exonerating to landholders and volunteers.

Barbed-wire vine is endemic to Australia. As a spikey climber, it provides good habitat and protection for small birds. Its tough, leathery leaves are actually the larval host for the Fiery Jewel, Bright Forest-blue and Coral Jewel Butterflies. Its ripe black fruits are favoured by satin bowerbirds and the green catbird. It has showy flowers which have a beautiful fragrance. So what’s not to love??

The spines on barbed-wire vine can give an unsuspecting bush regenerator a nasty scrape, so if this species is growing along an access path, making it difficult to get around your property to do work, then it is ok to redirect stems by entwining them around other vegetation or giving them a bit of a prune. Safety has to come first, even when working on your own property!

The images were captured by a Land For Wildlife (LFW) member Ash Rowley at Obi Obi during a LFW property visit.

For more detailed information on barbed-wire vine, visit the Land For Wildlife website.