Cissus antarctica

Kangaroo Vine; Water Vine; Vine, Water; Vine

Family: Vitaceae

A vigorous vine, endemic to Australia, occurs in north-east Queensland and central-east Queensland and southwards as far as south-eastern New South Wales. In NSW, it grows along the coast mainly but extends into the tablelands and central western slopes.

Grows in well-developed upland rain forest and wet sclerophyll forest and can also be found on behind beach dunes in littoral rainforest. It is a true climber, supporting itself by simple or 2-branched tendrils and growing to 4 m and higher in a rainforest situation. Individuals plants themselves can be over 10 metres long with thick basal stems.

Leaves are simple mostly to 12 cm long and to 5 cm wide, ovate to oblong with regular teeth. The upper surface is dark green and hairless (glabrous) and the lower surface rusty-hairy. The stems have leaf-opposed tendrils (modified leaves called tendrils opposite each leaf) which enable the plant to climb; a feature of species in this grape family.

Flowers are produced in panicle-like clusters opposite the leaves, 1 to 3 cm long and are creamy-white on colour occurring in spring. Each flower is only 5 mm across.

Being in the grape family, the fruit is a berry, approximately 15 mm in diameter, globe-shaped and purplish in colour.

In the garden

In the garden situation, it is commonly cultivated over a trellis or fence. It is best grown in a warm temperate to sub-tropical climates and can also be used as spreading groundcover, creating a dense patch. It can be observed growing as an untidy hedge in some situations, or to create a barrier to stop people walking through a particular area. It could be used to screen an ugly fence to great effect, so long as the stems can grip onto something.

It has been promoted through channels like Gardening Australia as a great indoor plant, and can be grown around a window or up a wall on some supporting frame.

Fruits are eaten by many bird species.

It should be grown in diffused sunshine to partial shade. The leaves are hardy to full sun, but these plants prefer their roots to be well-shaded or under a thick layer of mulch. It is very hardy once established. It will have to be pruned to keep it under control and direct it where it is desired to grow.


Propagation is easy from cuttings, which root readily. Germination from seed is slow – three months plus.

Other information

Very similar to a Queensland species named Cissus oblonga, which has leaves usually with entire leaf margins but of similar dimensions and appearance.

Likely regenerates from seedbank and vigorous root system after fire (much like old grape vines).

Cissus – is derived from the Greek word kissos (κισσος), meaning “ivy”
antarctica – “regions around the South Pole”. Antarctica means “opposite to the Arctic” (Gk. ἀνταρκτική) – basically referring to Australia as this plant is only found in Australia.

Not considered at risk in the wild – very common.


By Jeff Howes