Cathedral bellsCathedral bells

Common name: Cathedral bells, cup and saucer vine
Botanical name: Cobaea scandens
Management programme: Advisory

Native to Central and South America and introduced to New Zealand as an ornamental garden plant. It is also called cup-and-saucer vine as the flowers resemble tea cups and the base of the flower looks like a saucer.

Why is it a pest?

  • It smothers other plants and prevents the establishment of seedlings.
  • The vines are long-lived and can grow over trees and shrubs forming a dense canopy, smothering native plants.
  • Seeds are wind dispersed, although it is believed that majority of the spread of cathedral bells is due to illegally dumped vegetation.

Where is it found?

This plant has been recorded in Rotorua and Tauranga.

Most likely to invade habitats such as open and intact forest and forest margins, coastlands, shrublands, especially in low frost areas.

What does it look like?

  • Fast growing evergreen climber up to 6m, with strong tendrils and a scrambling habit.
  • Angled stems have hook-like tips.
  • Flowers are green and smelly when young, then turn deep purple as they mature. Flowers from September to May.
  • Green seed capsule containing winged seeds is 5-9cm in length.

What are the rules?


The Bay of Plenty Regional Council does not enforce the control of advisory species. It is landowner/occupier responsibility to manage these pests. Council may provide advice on how to manage or control these species if required.


How do you get rid of it?


  1. Dig out scattered plants.
  2. Cut and paste large stems with herbicide.
  3. Spray in spring to summer with herbicide.


CAUTION: When using any herbicide or pesticide, PLEASE READ THE LABEL THOROUGHLY to ensure that all instructions and directions for the purchase, use and storage of the product, are followed and adhered to.

Read more on pest control advice, information and regulations.