Sicyos australis


australis: southern

Common Name(s)


Current Conservation Status

2018 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2012 - Non Resident Native - Coloniser
2009 - Non Resident Native - Coloniser
2004 - Data Deficient


2012 - EF, RR, SO
2009 - EF, RR


Sicyos australis Endl.



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Herbs other than Composites


Sicyos angulata L. auct. non. New Zealand authors


Indigenous. New Zealand: North Island (Northland, Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty). Also Australia and formerly Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands.


Coastal forest or lowland forest, often in scrub or amongst bracken fern.


Herbaceous climber; stems annual, up to 10m long, 5-mm diameter, sparsely hirsute with simple multicellular hairs and glandular hairs, glabrescent. Tendrils 3–5-branched. Leaves: petiole 10–65 mm long, scaberulous; lamina ovate or broadly ovate in outline, 35–195 × 45–200mm, cordate with the basal sinus broad, the lobes not overlapping, acuminate, shallowly to deeply palmately 5- or 7-lobed, the lobes broadly triangular, acute or acuminate, margins dentate with apiculate teeth, sparsely scaberulous adaxially and abaxially with simple hairs, more densely and coarsely along veins. Male inflorescence an 8–19-flowered raceme 25–155 mm long; peduncle 15–125 mm long, sparsely scaberulous; rhachis glandular hairy. Male flowers: pedicels 3–11 mm long; hypanthium broadly campanulate, 2.4–2.7 mm diameter; calyx lobes linear, 0.4–0.7 mm long; corolla rotate, 4.5–7.8 mm diameter, mostly glabrous abaxially, the lobe apices puberulous, glabrous adaxially, white, 5-lobed, the lobes broadly triangular–ovate, obtuse; 2.0–2.6 mm long; disc c.1.2 mm in diameter; staminal column 1.5–1.8 mm long; staminal head 1.7–2.2 mm diameter. Female inflorescence an 8–11-flowered head; peduncle 8–33 mm long. Female flowers: subsessile; ovary ovate, attenuate, c.3 mm long, 1.4 mm diameter, minutely and densely echinulate with barbed aculei; hypanthium above the constriction broadly campanulate, c.1.5 mm in diameter, minutely glandular hairy surrounding the disc; calyx lobes linear, 0.4–0.7 mm long; corolla 2.5–3.5 mm diameter, mostly glabrous abaxially, the lobe apices puberulous, glabrous adaxially, white, 5-lobed, the lobes triangular–ovate, obtuse, c.1.6mm long; disc c.1 mm in diameter; style c.1.4mm long; stigma 2-lobed, the lobes c.0.3mm long, recurved. Fruit ovate, rarely fusiform, 6.4–9.5 × 2.8–4.0 mm, apically attenuate, the surface ± glabrous or scabridulous with short hairs, echinate; aculei dense, 1.6–3.6 mm long, retrorsely barbed. Seeds ellipsoidal, 4.0–5.5 × 2.8–3.4 mm brown.

Similar Taxa

In New Zealand could only be confused with Sicyos mawhai. Sicyos australis differs from S. mawhai by the male flowers which are < 10 mm diameter; by the smaller, grey-green 3-5 acutely-lobed leaves; broad leaf sinus (the basal lobes not overlapping this); harsh stem hairs. Both specie of Sicyos have at times been confused with choko (Sechium edule), especially when in a vegetative state. However, choko has larger, darker green leaves, and the fruits of choko are unmistakable, being larger, pear-shaped, pale green, and unadorned with sharp spines.


In suitable conditions flowers are produced throughout the year.

Flower Colours



In suitable conditions fruits are produced throughout the year.

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from seed. However seed can take several months to germinate.


Previously listed under the tag name S. aff. australis (b) (AK 289786; Mangere Stonefields) by de Lange et al. (2009) as a "Coloniser" now that the exact identity of Sicyos australis has been clarified (Telford et al. 2012) this status is still appropriate. It appears that Sicyos australis has recently established in New Zealand, presumably (or at least initially) by natural means. It is now locally distributed over a large part of mainly eastern northern New Zealand and it is actively spreading from these areas into farmland, plantation forestry and urban wasteland. Although it is susceptible to cucumber, watermelon and zucchini mosaic virus, it seems less so than the endemic S. mawhai and it is secure at most known sites.

Chromosome No.

2n = c.24, 26

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where to buy

Occasionally sold by commercial nurseries.



Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 4 January 2004. Description based on Telford et al.

References and further reading

Cameron, E.K. 1991. Mangere a small forest remnant and Sicyos australis. Auckland Botanical Society Journal, 46: 83-84

de Lange, P.J.; Norton, D.A.; Courtney, S.P.; Heenan, P.B.; Barkla, J.W.; Cameron, E.K.; Hitchmough, R.; Townsend, A.J. 2009: Threatened and uncommon plants of New Zealand (2008 revision). New Zealand Journal of Botany 47: 61–96.

Delmiglio, C.; Pearson, M.N. 2006: Effects and incidence of cucumber mosaic virus, watermelon mosaic virus and zucchini yellow mosaic virus in New Zealand’s only native cucurbit, Sicyos australis. Australasian Plant Pathology 35: 29–35.

Telford, I.R.H.; Sebastian, P.; de Lange, P.J.; Bruhl, J.J.; Renner, S.S. 2012: Morphological and molecular data reveal three rather than one species of Sicyos (Cucurbitaceae) in Australia, New Zealand, and the islands of the South West Pacific. Australian Systematic Botany 25: 188-201.

This page last updated on 19 Dec 2014