Biosecurity Queensland has seized more than 300 illegal potted cacti, which could have caused serious environmental problems if allowed to spread, in the past year.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the 315 plants were being sold by internet traders or nurseries in south east Queensland.
“The most commonly traded species are bunny ears, blind cactus, drooping tree pear, velvety tree pear, and Eve’s pin cactus,” Mr Furner said.
“Australia doesn’t have any native cacti, but with so many dry areas our landscape is the ideal environment for them to thrive.
“There are now cacti infestations in all states and territories of Australia, which are having serious impacts on agriculture and the environment.
“Some species will form dense, impenetrable thickets that restrict livestock grazing and negatively impact on productivity, as well as fence and gate maintenance.
“Their sharp spines can also cause injury and death to livestock and native animals, and puncture vehicle tyres.”
Mr Furner said since 2012, 27 cacti species had been listed as weeds of national significance.
“Many species are either restricted or prohibited in Queensland, and biosecurity inspectors along with local government officers have the power to enter places to seize cacti that are being unlawfully sold,” he said.
“Our officers regularly respond to reports of cacti being sold on internet trading sites, social media sites including Facebook and information received from the public.
“If the matter goes to court, there are serious fines of more than $130,000.
“Biosecurity Queensland also conducts biological control research to get rid of cacti infestations, just as we did decades ago using cactoblastis to control prickly pear.”
If you are aware of banned cacti being sold, contact your local Council or call Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries
The Honourable Mark Furner