Bridal creeper is a Weed of National Significance. It is regarded as one of the worst weeds in Australia because of its invasiveness, potential for spread, and economic and environmental impacts.
Bridal creeper entered the country as a garden plant and is now a major weed of bushland in southern Australia, where its climbing stems and foliage smother native plants. It forms a thick mat ofunderground tubers which impedes the root growth of other plants and often prevents seedling establishment. Rare native plants, such as the rice flower Pimelea spicata, are threatened with extinction by bridal creeper.It invades undisturbed habitats and is a major threat to most low shrubs and groundcover plants in mallee, drysclerophyll forest and heath vegetation.
Bridal creeper has annual, climbing shoot growth from a perennial root system consisting of many tubers (food storage organs) grouped along a central rhizome (an underground stem with shoot buds).
The underground mat of rhizomes and tubers makes up the bulk of the plant. These tubers provide water, energy and nutrients that enable the plant to survive over summer and allow rapid shoot growth in autumn.
Twisting stems grow up to 3m in length, with leaves borne in groups on short side branches. Numerous shoots are produced from one patch of roots and entwine with each other and the native vegetation, making it almost impossible to identify individual plants.
Bridal creeper produces pea-sized green berries which ripen to red and usually contain two or three black seeds. Although one of its common names is 'smilax', it is not related to native species in the genus Smilax.