The trendy pest that could cost you up to $130,000
OVER 300 illegal cactuses have been seized by Biosecurity Queensland as experts warn the rising popularity of the Instagrammable plants may come with major consequences.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the 315 plants were being sold on Facebook or other internet trading sites in south east Queensland.
These include commonly traded species like bunny ears, blind cactus, drooping tree pear, velvety tree pear, and Eve's pin cactus.
"They might look pretty but they are an evil present," Minister Furner said.
"We all have a responsibility to support our farmers by reporting these species whenever they are found."
But those who work in the business say it would be hard for the regular trendsetter to tell one invasive species from the other.
Stephanie Low owner of Gold Coast Cactus said she has had customers asking for species that they didn't know was invasive.
"People just see something they like and seek it out for their interiors - they don't know it is illegal," Ms Low told the Bulletin.
"Different species of Prickly Pear (Opuntia) are very colourful and popular so people will buy it online not knowing what is OK and what isn't."
"Regular people don't know."
Ms Low who sells and rents cactuses doesn't believe the plants popularity will let up anytime soon, meaning those selling dodgy shrubs need to be wary or risk serious fines of more than $130,000 if the matter goes to court.
"People love cactuses so I can see why they are spreading, they are low maintenance, I've even had people rent them for photo shoots."
Tailored Space Interiors director Bec Lawson said interior design trends have also it was the assisted the popularity of the cactuses.
"Time poor people looking for interior greenery will use them, the style lends itself to bohemian gypsy styling or the super popular minimalist look."
Since 2012, 27 cactuses 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 cactuses that are being unlawfully sold.