Cape ivy (Delairea odorata)
Sunflower family (Asteraceae)
Photo courtesy of Dave Nelson
Description: Cape ivy is a perennial vine with shiny, five to six pointed leaves, usually with two small stipule-like lobes. There is one leaf at each node. Foliage is green to green-yellow and has a distinct odor. Plants have extensive waxy stolons (roots/stems) running above and below ground. Below-ground stems are purple. Each flower is a yellow, round discoid head the size of a dime. Flowers are arranged in groups of twenty or more.
Habitat: Cape ivy can be found climbing over other vegetation in coastal forests typically below 660 feet in elevation. It prefers shady, disturbed sites with year-round moisture, such as stream banks, coastal forests or grasslands in a fog belt, open oak forests, coastal bluff communities, seasonal wetlands, and even a few serpentine soils.
Distribution: Native to the moist mountain forests of South Africa, Cape ivy now occupies more than 500,000 acres in California. In California it only spreads vegetatively by fragmentation of stolons. Ninety-five percent of fragments of green stolons containing only one node establish, and drying stolon fragments in full sun for ten weeks does not stop them from rooting.
Flowering period: December to February.