Illegal online trade of noxious weeds in Victoria

Buying and selling declared noxious weeds is illegal in Victoria.

Within Victoria it is illegal to buy, sell, bring into Victoria or display for sale any noxious weeds that are declared under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994.

Although some noxious weeds may be very attractive, their impacts can be devastating.

Attributes that make these plants desirable in trade, such as their hardy nature and ability to easily establish, are also what makes them highly invasive.

For more information and a full list of Victoria's declared noxious weeds, please see Invasive plant classifications.

Why selling noxious weeds is illegal

The trade of noxious weeds enables them to spread quickly over large distances. Being able to buy online allows for this process to be much faster and further reaching.

Once a plant is introduced into a new area, infestations can rapidly develop, threatening our agricultural, environmental and social values. Even plants kept in a backyard can be easily spread into natural and agricultural systems, by seeds being blown on the wind, or by plant parts being picked up and transported by animals.

Once established, these infestations can be costly and challenging to control.

The most common noxious weeds traded online

Some of the most common declared noxious weeds found in online trade are the Victorian State prohibited weeds. These weeds are declared in the highest category of noxious weeds in Victoria and are managed with the aim of eradicating them from the State. State prohibited weeds pose a serious threat to the Victoria’s agriculture sector, natural environment and broader social amenities.

Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes)

Water hyacinth is the most commonly traded State prohibited weed in Victoria.

Water hyacinth is often marketed online as a high value ornamental aquatic plant that is easy to grow and maintain. It also has the potential to grow rapidly and completely cover waterways, devastating aquatic environments and recreational amenity. It can easily spread from dams and ponds into important waterway systems and is widely considered one of the world’s worst invasive weeds.

Four images of water hyacinth: in flower, roots, leaves, bulbs

Salvinia (Salvinia molesta)

Salvinia is a perennial aquatic fern that floats on water surfaces and forms dense mats of growth. It is also a State prohibited weed that has been identified in online trade in the past.

When conditions are suitable, salvinia can grow rapidly to completely cover water surfaces. Its matted growth can block waterways and reduce water quality. Masses of decaying salvinia can de-oxygenate water, resulting in the death of aquatic fauna.

There have been instances of salvinia entering Victoria as a contaminant of aquatic plants purchased from interstate and online.

A montage of images of salvinia: roots, leaves and an infestation in a creek

How to help

Prevention and early detection are key to eradicating State prohibited weeds.

If you see a State prohibited weed in Victoria for sale online, in the wild or in a garden, please email available details to weed.spotters@agriculture.vic.gov.au or call the Agriculture Victoria Customer Service Centre on 136 186.

If the plant is for sale online, please take a screenshot of the advertisement and email it to weed.spotters@agriculture.vic.gov.au

Please don't contact the seller yourself, as Agriculture Victoria will follow up on your report and arrange for the effective treatment and removal of the plants.

More information

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Page last updated: 24 Nov 2020