Mawhai Sicyos australis

Key Features

  • A vigorous vine producing stems up to 10 m long, covered in sparse, harsh hairs. Leaves are stalked, grey-green, rounded, 5-pointed and coarsely toothed. Branched, spiralling tendrils are also produced. Flowers are small and greenish, clustered on stalks, and turn into dry, rounded fruits that are covered with small hooked bristles that readily attach to clothing. Sicyos australis could be confused with S. mawhai, but it has smaller grey-green leaves with 3-5 lobes, a broad leaf bud sinus, and harsh hairs on the stem.

Distribution and Habitat

  • Northern North Island in coastal and lowland forest, often in scrub or bracken.


  • Habitat modification and loss.
  • Small population sizes.
  • Disease.

Management Opportunities

  • Survey for new locations.
  • Mark known sites.
  • Protection of habitat.
  • Reintroduction to appropriate sites within plantation forests.

Monitoring Options

  • Check existing populations annually.
  • Report new locations to DOC and NZPCN.

Further Information and Support

  • New Zealand Plant Conservation Network (NZPCN).
  • References
    • Allan (1961). Flora of New Zealand. Volume I. Government Printer, Wellington.
    • Telford I.R.H., Sebastian P., de Lange P.J., Bruhl J.J., and Renner S.S. (2012). Morphological and molecular data reveal three rather than one species of Sicyos (Cucurbitaceae) in Australia, New Zealand and Islands of the South West Pacific. Australian Systematic Botany 25: 188–201.