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Source: Environment Canterbury Regional Council

Header: Tradescantia/wandering willie is often sold at market stalls without the vendor’s knowledge of the potential biosecurity outcomes.

Everyone has a part to play in understanding what they are buying and selling online to ensure Canterbury is protected from invasive plants.

House plants have become increasingly popular in recent years. Because of this, we’ve seen an increase in house plant sales through online buy and sell platforms such as Facebook Marketplace and TradeMe.

This surge in house plant popularity does come with risks, so you need to make sure you know what you are buying or selling. There are a number of unwanted organisms that cannot legally be sold, propagated, or distributed in New Zealand. These are named on the Ministry for Primary Industries’ National Pest Plant Accord (NPPA).

Regulated plants listed on the NPPA have a high risk of spreading into our environment and can significantly impact environmental and economic values.

Expanding plant sales monitoring

We have expanded our monitoring of plant sales in online marketplaces, as well as community markets, gardening clubs and roadside stalls. We educate sellers and buyers who may be unaware of what they are trading.

If you spot a pest plant, let us know and we can help you safely dispose of it so you don’t unintentionally propagate it. There is information on the safe disposal of pest plants on your local council’s website — or give them a ring.

Buyers: beware!

Wandering willie, or tradescantia fluminensis  sometimes listed as golden girl, quicksilver or ivory hill — is a species of concern that we have found on Facebook Marketplace, although it is illegal to sell.

Biosecurity officer Paige Lawson said tradescantia cultivars are a risk as they spread quickly and dominate native plants.

“They have very weedy characteristics and can easily spread into wild environments if planted or discarded outside, in which they can survive quite happily,” she said.

Sellers: know your listing

We understand most people are not deliberately listing unwanted organisms, so we need sellers to know what they are selling too.

A recent listing of concern on Facebook Marketplace was the highly invasive aquatic pest plant egeria, although it was labelled as ‘oxygen weed’.

Fortunately, we were able to contact the seller, educate them on the biosecurity risks of listing an invasive species, and destroy the plant.

Egeria forms dense stands that shade out native aquatic plants and destroys both animal and plant habitats. It’s absolutely vital this plant is not unknowingly spread around the region, into fish tanks or ponds.

Head here for more information on what we’re doing to combat biosecurity risks around the region.

Canterbury’s most traded pest plants

  • Wandering willie (Tradescantia fluminensis)
  • Pig’s ear (Cotyledon orbiculata)
  • Dwarf mountain pine (Pinus mugo)
  • Fairy Crassula (Crassula multicava)
  • Green Goddess (Zantedeschia aethiopica)

Cotyledon is known as pig’s ear

Commonly known as fairy crassula. Credit: Krzysztof Ziarnek

Green goddess is a popular unwanted organism. Credit: Carolyn Lewis, Weedbusters