Invasion history and ecology of the environmental weed balloon vine, Cardiospermum grandiflorum Swartz, in Australia

Scott P. CarrollA,B, Michael MathiesonC and Jenella E. LoyeA,B

A Department of Entomology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.

B Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Queensland 4072, Australia.

C Environmental Protection Agency, Wildlife Ecology Unit, 80 Meiers Road, Indooroopilly, Queensland 4068, Australia.


The tropical American balloon vine, Cardiospermum grandiflorum, is declared as an environmental weed throughout Queensland and in many districts of New South Wales. Using Australian herbarium records we documented its introduction and spread, mapped its invasion, described its habitats, and documented its shift from domestic to natural environs and from garden plant to recognized threat. Balloon vine was introduced into Sydney, northeastern New South Wales and southeastern Queensland in the 1920s and 30s from unknown sources. Range expansion was relatively slow until the 1960s, and major increments have occurred in the past 15 years. It was collected near Adelaide in the 1980s, and Perth in the 1990s. Naturalization is evident in some of the earliest collections. Local eradication efforts occurred as early as 1935, and its weed status was recognized in some regions by the 1960s. It grows on a diversity of soil types and is particularly abundant in riparian corridors, where it may cover other vegetation in uninterrupted stands kilometres in length. Much of its inland spread is along watercourses.

Key words: alien, balloon vine, ecology, exotic species, history, naturalized, plant invasion, Sapindaceae, weed.


Plant Protection Quarterly (2005) 20 (4) 140-144.