Queensland Government
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries media release

3 January 2020

Biosecurity Queensland and Sunshine Coast Regional Council target illegal weeds in backyard nurseries

• Biosecurity Queensland and Sunshine Coast Regional Council have seized more than 1,000 illegal cacti plants that were being propagated for sale by local backyard growers
• The plants are related to the prickly pear cactus and have the potential to spread in the same way, endangering the local environment, stock and native wildlife
• If you are planning to sell plants, make sure they are not restricted or prohibited under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Luke Short, Vector and Pest Plant Officer from Sunshine Coast Regional Council, removing drooping tree pear (Opuntia monacantha) that were intended for sale.

Biosecurity Queensland and Sunshine Coast Regional Council officers have destroyed more than 1,000 invasive plants being propagated for sale by backyard growers that had the potential to become serious pests.

Biosecurity Queensland Operations Manager Rob Cobon said most of the plants seized were cacti.

“Our staff, together with Sunshine Coast Regional Council officers have been on the lookout for people selling illegal plants either online or through local markets,” he said.

“The plants that we’ve seized are relatives to the prickly pear cactus, which decimated 60 million acres of land and sent many landholders broke.

“These plants have the potential to cause similar problems, are highly invasive and their sharp spines can also cause injury to stock and native animals.”

The Sunshine Coast Regional Council is taking a proactive approach to preventing weed infestations from occurring by implementing a local Biosecurity Plan.

Mr Cobon said the Biosecurity Act 2014 requires everyone to take all reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risks associated with invasive plants and animals under their control.

“So if you’re planning to sell plants online or at your local market, please make sure that they’re not restricted or prohibited,” he said.

“If these plants spread they can cause serious damage to the local environment and stock and native wildlife.”

If you have or think you know someone who is keeping or selling illegal plants please contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.