News

Watch out for world’s worst water weed

By Rodney Woods

Water hyacinth is a highly invasive weed that is choking lakes, rivers and waterways around the world, and Agriculture Victoria is encouraging Victorians to report the pest plant to prevent it from taking hold here.

An advertising campaign, ’Water hyacinth – don’t buy, sell or give it away’, targets the illegal buying or selling of the state-prohibited weed — the highest category of declared noxious weeds in Victoria.

The campaign will run on social media and online advertising sites in English, Mandarin, Khmer and Vietnamese.

Agriculture Victoria's high risk invasive plants biosecurity manager Angela Constantine said water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), was very harmful in aquatic environments.

Ms Constantine said water hyacinth could rapidly affect water quality, native aquatic plants and fish, and have an impact on recreational activities such as fishing and boating.

“We are asking people, if they see water hyacinth, to contact Agriculture Victoria and we will remove it before it can spread further,” she said.

Ms Constantine said in recent years Agriculture Victoria had prosecuted people for selling water hyacinth on Facebook and Gumtree.

“It’s important to know what you are buying, selling, or giving away,” she said.

Last financial year, Agriculture Victoria detected 21 cases of water hyacinth being traded online, and nine of these were in Victoria.

Ms Constantine said water hyacinth was easier to recognise during summer when it was flowering.

“Water hyacinth can be identified by its distinctive mauve flower and bulbous spongy stems.

“It is often kept for its very attractive flower but owners may be unaware of the profound threat it poses.

“In just one season, a single plant can produce more than 3000 seeds that can survive for more than 20 years.”

If you see or have any water hyacinth, or any other state-prohibited weed, report it to the Agriculture Victoria customer service centre on 136 186 or email: weed.spotters@ecodev.vic.gov.au