Ballarat woman pleads guilty to selling illegal flowers

The flowers being offered for sale by a Ballarat woman.

The flowers being offered for sale by a Ballarat woman.

A Ballarat woman has pleaded guilty to selling what looked like an innocent flower.

The woman was placed on a three month good behaviour bond after she pleading guilty to offering to sell, plant or possess orange hawkweed at a Ballan market in March.

Orange hawkweed is a state prohibited weed, the highest category of declared noxious weed and is illegal to trade, display, transport or propagate the plant.

Department of Environment and Primary Industries biosecurity division compliance manager Andrew Staley said it was accepted the women had made a mistake and was remorseful. 

He said it highlighted the importance of market stall holders knowing what plants they were offering for sale.

"We asked a range of questions and came to the conclusion she was not aware of its status as a prohibited weed," Mr Staley said.

"Orange hawkweed may be an attractive flowering plant but more importantly it is a prohibited weed which can be highly invasive, especially in colder climates."

Mr Staley said orange hawkweed had the ability to outcompete other plants and it emits chemicals which inhibit other plants around it. 

He said that was a strong characteristic of an invasive plant.

"There are 700-1000 species of hawkweed in the world and none are native to Australia. Orange hawkweed is one known in Victoria," Mr Staley said.

"It can be identified by its hairy leaves and stems and its bright orange dandelion-like flowers."

Orange hawkweed spreads through wind-dispersed seeds, and runners which form a dense carpet.

Mr Staley said anyone who believes they have seen or bought orange hawkweed should report it to the DEPI on 136 186.

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