Forms large impenetrable masses, growing over woody vegetation and able to completely engulf unwooded areas (Godfrey 1988). Can completely envelop a tree, killing it by shutting out all light (Bell and Wilson 1989). A serious widespread invader of seminatural or natural habitat (Cronk and Fuller 1995). Reported from Florida natural areas in Alachua, Putnam, and Dade countires (EPPC 1996), and from Everglades conservation areas in Broward County (Bodle 1994). Listed as a category I invasive species by Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (FLEPPC) and as Noxious weed by Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.
High-climbing, trailing, twining deciduous woody vine, with tuberous roots and rope-like, dark brown stems to 20 m (65 ft) long; herbaceous stems markedly hairy. Leaves alternate, long petioled, with 3 leaflets. Leaflets dark green, hairy on both surfaces, to 15 cm (5.4 in) long; lateral leaflets unequal at base, 1- or 2-lobed. Flowers pea-like, reddish-purple, fragrant, 2-2.5 cm across, in short-stalked, elongate clusters at leaf axils, to 20 cm long. Fruit a dark brown pod, flate but bulging over seeds, densely covered in long golden-brown hairs, to 8 cm long and 0.8 cm wide.
Leaves and pods have small hairs, making them fuzzy to the touch.
Developed for use as a forage in 1920s in Florida. Promoted i n the 1930s by the U.S. Soil Conservation Service for erosion control (Bell and Wilson 1989). From early 1950s, no longer advocated by U.S. Department of Agriculture, and declared a weed in 1972 (Shores 1997).
Documented by herbarium specimens from 14 Florida counties, from Escambia to Dade (Wunderlin et. al. 1995). Has also invaded South Africa, Malaysia, and western Pacifc Islands (Cronk and Fuller 1995).
Do not plant. Remove plantings and control sprouts and seedlings. Bag and dispose in a dumpster or burn.