Cape ivy (German Ivy)

Delairea odorata (synonym Senecio mikanioides)

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  • Climbing vine with small inconspicuous yellow flowers (see photo).
  • Leaves and stems are smooth, shiny, hairless, plentiful, bright green. Leaves are 1 to 4 in. long, evenly spaced on stem, with 5 to 9 lobes each.
  • Easily confused with native wild cucumber Marah fabaceus. Marah leaves are not as shiny, Marah stems are ribbed (not smooth), Marah produces many spiraling tendrils and Marah produces distinctive round 1 in. fruit covered in spines.

Identification key in: Hickman, J. ed. 1993. The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California. University of California Press.

Growth and spread

  • Sends out runners which root and create new plants.
  • Can resprout from fragments of runners or roots.


  • Native to South Africa.
  • Grows well in shady and damp places, disturbed ground.


  • Highly invasive, spreads quickly, capable of blanketing native vegetation including trees (see photo).

Prevention and Control


  • Plant natives or spread native seed in disturbed areas.

General control notes

  • Follow-up monitoring and treatment required to remove resprouts (Bossard 2000).

Manual or mechanical control

(Bossard 2000)

  • Manual removal—use of pointed or pronged rake to remove stems and roots; plant material should be removed from site; should not be ground or dumped unbagged due to sprouting of plant fragments; supplemental vegetation should be considered to prevent erosion and invasion by other invasive plants; potential disturbance to non-target plant species since tends to grow in mats close to ground.,
  • Prescribed burning—not extensively studied since foliage has high moisture content.

Biological control

  • Biological control agents—currently none are available for release in California (Bossard 2000). However, the US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) is conducting host specificity tests on the Cape ivy gall fly (Parafreutreta regalis) and stem-boring moth (Digitivalva delaireae) (Balciunas 2003).

Chemical control

  • Application of herbicides—mixture of 0.5% glyphosate, 0.5% triclopyr, and 0.1% silicone surfactant applied as a foliar spray proved effective in removal project in San Francisco; optimal time to apply is in late spring past flowering stage (Bossard and Benefield 1995); use cautiously along pond and stream banks and where water table is close to the surface (Bossard 2000).
  • Estimated costs: costs for materials and application by a contractor are approximately $250 per acre for glyphosate, depending on size of treatment area, scale of treatment, and dosage. It is recommended to contract a licensed professional for herbicide applications (Gibbons et al. 1999).

References and more information

Balciunas, J. 2003. Biological control of Cape Ivy Research Report (April 2002 through December 2002). United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. Albany, CA. Available at

Bossard, C. 2000. Delairea odorata. In Invasive Plants of California Wildlands. Carla C. Bossard, John M. Randall, Marc C. Hoshovsky, Editors. University of California Press. Available at's_Wildlands .

Gibbons, M.V., M.G. Rosenkranz, H.L. Gibbons, Jr., and M.D. Sytsma. 1999. Guide for Developing Integrated Aquatic Vegetation Management in Oregon. Center for Lakes and Reservoirs, Portland State University, Portland, OR.

Management of Cape-ivy ( Delairea odorata) in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Maria Alvarez. 1997. Proceedings of the 1997 CalEPPC Symposium. CalEPPC, Sacramento, CA.

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