Plants of
South Australia
Cynanchum viminale ssp. australe
Caustic Vine,
Caustic Bush
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
Least concern
Near threatened
Critically endangered
Data deficient
Coober Pedy
Mount Gambier
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 2

Prior names

Sarcostemma viminale ssp. australe

Sarcostemma australe

Common names

Caustic Vine

Caustic Bush


Cynanchum from the Greek 'kyon' meaning a dog and 'anchein' meaning to choke; alluding to supposed poisonous properties of some European species. Viminale from the Latin 'vimineus' meaning bearing osiers (a shoot of a willow); alluding to the species having long flexible shoots like the willow. Australis from Latin meaning southern; referring to the species distribution in Australia.

Distribution and status

Found across much of South Australia, growing in woodland and scrub, often on rock outcrops and in coastal sites. Also found in Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales. Native. Common in South Australia. Common in the other states.
Herbarium regions: North Western, Lake Eyre, Gairdner-Torrens, Flinders Ranges, Eastern, Eyre Peninsula, Northern Lofty, Murray, Yorke Peninsula, Southern Lofty
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Alinytjara Wilurara, Eyre Peninsula, Northern and Yorke, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Shrub to 2 m high or with prostrate stems longer. Leaves opposite, scale-like. Inflorescence an umbel with 2-10 pale yellow to whitish flowers. Flowers in spring to summer. Fruits are brown capsule to 14 cm long and 10 mm wide, tapering to a long point, outer surface finely veined, sometimes tuberculate, inner surface smooth, shiny, pale-brown. Seeds are pale-brown, flattened seed to 7 mm long and 4 mm wide, with long silky pappus.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between December and April. Collect fruits that are maturing, fat, hard, turning pale brown and contain fluffy seeds. Place the fruit in a tray and leave to dry for at least two weeks until it split. Then shake the fruits to release the seeds. No further cleaning is required. Store the seeds with a desiccant such as dried silica beads or dry rice, in an air tight container in a cool and dry place.