The Northern Territory Department of Environment and Natural Resources has seized and destroyed dozens of invasive weeds following their recent discovery at Darwin and Palmerston Bunnings stores.
It is believed that at least 27 pots of the declared weed - Sagittaria (Sagittaria platyphylla) - had already been sold to members of the public by the time they were detected.
The Department is seeking urgent public assistance in recovering all the plants that were inadvertently sold.
Department regional weeds officer Roni Opden said Sagittaria is a Weed of National Significance (WoNS) and had been incorrectly labelled Melon Sword (Echinodorus osiris) by a Top End wholesaler and supplied to Bunnings.
She said that customer receipts may also list the sale as Tibouchina coolbaby.
Ms Opden is urging anyone who might have bought plants labelled as Melon Sword from Bunnings Darwin or Palmerston between August 12 and September 9, 2016 to contact the department's weed management branch on 8999 4567 for further information on the return process, including the safest method of transport.
"Sagittaria is a highly invasive aquatic plant that can live in or around water," Ms Opden said.
"Interstate, Sagittaria causes significant impacts to irrigation channels.
"Severe infestations also restrict flows in wetlands and natural waterways, adversely affecting biodiversity and impacting on recreational activities.
"Since detection Sagittaria has shown it is well suited to the Top End climate, indicating that it may prove to be highly invasive and difficult to control if allowed to escape into the Territory's environment.
"The National Strategic Plan for Sagittaria requires the Territory to prevent the introduction of this weed and rapidly respond to new incursions, which is why we investigated this matter immediately once being notified of its sale.
"The Department thanks Bunnings for their cooperation and assistance in this matter.
"Bunnings have removed all of the plants from sale and are assisting the weed management branch to ensure all of the plants are recovered and customers refunded."
Anyone who bought Sagittaria from Bunnings will be refunded the full purchase price of each plant, and there are no legal implications for doing so. No receipt is needed.
However, anyone found to have kept these weeds without returning them could be in breach of the Weeds Management Act, and fines may apply.
Ms Opden said 109 pots containing Sagittaria were seized from the wholesaler, 99 of which had their plants destroyed and the other 10 plants retained for research purposes.
If you have planted the Sagittaria and need assistance with collection or removal, please contact the weed management branch.
More information about weeds in the Northern Territory is available at www.nt.gov.au/weeds
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