Indoor plant invasive species

Invasive indoor plants - Nephrolepis exaltata or Boston sword fern. Invasive indoor plants - Nephrolepis exaltata or Boston sword fern. Janet Peace

Do you have indoor plants that are listed as invasive species in your home? Are you buying or selling indoor plants illegally? Did you know that the following indoor plants have trade restrictions placed on them? 

Indoor plants listed under the National Environmental Management Biodiversity (NEMBA) Act [No. 10 of 2004] include:

Nephrolepis cordifolia - Erect sword fern, Ladder sword fern (including ANY cultivars or hybrids of this species)
a. 1b in Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Western Cape
b. 3 in Free State, Gauteng, North-West and Northern Cape.

Which means it cannot be bought or sold... ie NO TRADE in ANY province.

Nephrolepis exaltata - Sword fern, Boston sword fern (including ANY cultivars or hybrids of this species)
a. 1b in Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Western Cape
b. 3 in Free State, Gauteng, North-West and Northern Cape

Which means it cannot be bought or sold... ie NO TRADE in ANY province.

Syngonium podophyllum - Goose foot, Arrow- head vine
a. 1b in Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga
b. Not listed elsewhere.
Which means it can be traded... in ONLY Gauteng, North West, N Cape and Western Cape

Schefflera actinophylla - Australian cabbage tree, Queensland umbrella tree
a. 1b in Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga
b. Not listed elsewhere.
Which means it can be traded.. in ONLY Gauteng, Free State, North West, N Cape and Western Cape

Schefflera arboricola - Dwarf umbrella tree
a. 3 in Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
b. Not listed elsewhere.
Which means it can be traded... in ONLY Gauteng, Free State, North West, N Cape and Western Cape

Schefflera elegantissima - False aralia
a. 3 in Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
b. Not listed elsewhere.
Which means it can be traded... in ONLY Gauteng, Free State, North West, N Cape and Western Cape

What does the law say about categories of invasive species?

It is illegal to trade in ANY listed invasive plant species (including Category 1a, 1b, 2 or 3) in South Africa according to the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act [No. 10 of 2004].

The NEMBA Alien and Invasive Species Regulations law came into effect on 1 October 2014. Since that date, it has been illegal to trade in any listed invasive species plants that are in greenhouses.

Fines can be issued to non-compliant growers, but no fines or directives have been placed on growers that destroyed plants in a bonfire and have the visual images to prove it.

Should your greenhouses be reported for housing listed invasive species, the organisation that owns the property on which the illegal plants are found will be the receiver of the fines.

What about indoor plants that are deemed to be sterile cultivars?

In April 2014, SANA negotiated a 'Sterile Cultivar List' which became a memorandum on listed invasive species - which the industry believed to be sterile.

On 14 February 2017, a delegation from SAGIC met with the Biosecurity officials at the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). A geneticist with specialisations in invasive species gave the main talk.

During this speech, it was shown that the science behind invasive species has moved on dramatically since 2014 and the request to use Sterile Hybrids of any Nephrolepsis species was shown to be scientifically indefensible.

The delegation from the green industries formally accepted, on 14 February 2017, that all 'sterile' exemptions for Nephrolepsis species would fall away with immediate effect.

Regretfully, hybrids of Nephrolepsis exaltata are no longer given any type of permission (legal or informal) to be used in the trade as from 14 February, 2017.
The indoor plant trade is one of the introduction pathways of invasive species into gardens and property.

The risk related to species kept in greenhouses and the risk of their introduction into gardens is associated with plant growers who still trade invasive plants.

What if you already have these plants?

If you have these plants in your home or garden, you will have to destroy any Category 1a, 1b or 2 species without permits.

If you are a grower, you absolutely have to destroy all Category 1a, 1b, 2 and 3 species as you may not trade in listed invasive species.
Growers have found that it is very useful to have images of a bonfire in which you removed all your invasive species on record in the industry, should you need to deflect a fine that may come through from the reporting of an invasive plant still on a client’s property.

Burning is the only acceptable way of destroying stock if you are a grower or currently own illegal invasive plants.

The South African government have spent millions of taxpayer’s money on controlling invasive species and mitigating the damage caused by these invaders in ecosystems. It is your duty of care to assist in the preservation of biodiversity in South Africa by make sure that any invasive species on your property are controlled and destroyed.