T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Macfadyena unguis-cati (Cats Claw Creeper)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Bignoniaceae
Tribe: Bignonieae
Genus: Macfadyena
Species: M. unguis-cati
Binomial name: Macfadyena unguis-cati
Synonyms: Dolichandra unguis-cati , Bignonia tweediana, Doxantha unguis-cati, Batocydia unguis
Common name: Cat's Claw Creeper, Cat's claw vine, Cat's claw ivy, Cat's claw climber, Cats Claw Creeper, Catclaw trumpet, Catclaw creeper, Funnel creeper, Yellow trumpet vine, Macfadyena

Macfadyena unguis-cati is an aggressive, rampant, climbing, perennial liana originally from the tropical dry forests of Central America, South America and the Caribbean. It can become invasive and it is now present worldwide. 
In New Zealand it has escaped gardens is now an invasive weed in shrub, disturbed sites, along roadsides, riparian zones and growing over fences and old buildings. It can affect all layers of plants of forest ecosystems by rapidly spreading both vertically and horizontally by a network of spreading tubers each producing more runners. It rapidly climbs trees and shrubs and will cause their death by shading and by adding weight to the canopy. Its runners smother the ground preventing native species growing. The plant reproduces by seed and vegetatively via its tuberous root system. The seeds are spread by wind and water. The tuberous roots are spread by soil movement.

Macfadyena unguis-cati is long-lived woody liana that can reach up to 30 m in height. It also develops an extensive root system that produces large tubers from which individual climbing runners grow. 
The growing young stems are glabrous and green in colour, their tips can be a bronze colour. They gain support when climbing with claw-like leaf tendrils. With age, the stems turn a light grey/brown and become woody. Old mature stems can be over 15 cm thick and along their length, short rootlets are sent out to grip surfaces for support. 

The oppositely arranged compound leaves are on stalks >25 mm long. They consist of a pair of oval to slightly lanceolate leaflets that are >80 mm long and >30 mm wide. They are hairless, have entire margins and pointed tips. Young seedlings have simple leaves and can have slightly toothed margins.

Macfadyena unguis-cati’s tubular flowers are a bright yellow. They are >10 cm long and 10 cm wide and are borne singly or in small clusters of up to 15 flowers. The clusters originate in the leaf forks. They have five petal lobes each about 1-2 cm long. The flower's throat is usually lined with fine reddish-orange lines.

The plant's fruit is elongated, flattened, strap-like capsules which are >50 cm long and >12 mm wide. At first, they are green and on maturity turn a dark brown. The fruiting capsules contain numerous papery, two winged, oblong seeds.

The long seed capsule

The claw-like leaf tendrils used for climbing.

A new growing stem.

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and Information: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/