Butterfly champion Jacqui Knight suspects that many people are unaware of the "terrible damage" being done to gardens, properties and wilderness areas by the mothplant, aka kapok.
Mothplant (Araujia hortorum) was a vigorous, slender evergreen vine with dark green, spear-shaped leaves growing in pairs, she said. Care had to be taken when clearing the plant away, as the sap was sticky and toxic.
"This plant is terrible," one gardener had told her.
"In the summer it is covered with very pretty white flowers, but butterflies and bees often get trapped in them, which gives it its other common name of cruel plant. Then, when the flowers are pollinated, the seed pod looks a lot like a choko, a popular vegetable, but they're not. The pods are poisonous, and just one of them can produce hundreds of seeds.
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"You don't want to get a drop of (the sap) in your eyes or on your skin. Wear old clothes and gloves.," she added.
Jacqui said pods should not be composted but burnt or disposed of in the rubbish. The vine should be cut just above ground level, and Picloram or Cut-n-paste applied. If the plants were on public land, contact DOC, the FNDC or the NRC, and follow-up until action was taken.
"If the plants are on private property, tell the owners about them and seek their co-operation," she said.
"There is good information on the Weedbusters website, and also an active Facebook group of volunteers, mostly in Auckland, who are working to eradicate it. Check out Society Totally Against Moth Plant, https://www.facebook.com/groups/234572443294360/ - they welcome more activists.
"The only good mothplant is a dead one."