Local stall holders have been issued with a formal warning after they were caught selling the fruit of a banned weed at Rapid Creek markets.
Now authorities are trying to track down people who may have bought them.
DENR weed management branch policy and planning director, Belinda Townend, said the incident was a reminder to the public that selling any part of a declared weed is illegal, including its fruit.
Ms Townend said penalties for selling or offering to sell a declared weed start at $261.80 for an individual and $1355.20 for a corporation.
In this particular case the stall holders were trying to sell the fruit of chinee apple (Ziziphus mauritiana) at Rapid Creek markets last week and is the first known incidence of this Class A (to be eradicated) weed being sold.
“Chinee apple can form dense thickets if allowed to spread, altering the structure and ecological integrity of native vegetation,” Ms Townend said.
“It is native to southern Asia and eastern Africa and probably introduced to Australia as a fruit and shade tree.
“Spread often occurs through germination of the seeds found in the fruit and once established, chinee apple can dramatically reduce the stocking rates of rangelands with thickets impeding mustering, restricting stock access to water.
“That’s why it’s vital for stall holders to know if what they are selling is legal or not.
“In this particular instance the weed was labelled as “Chinkee apple” and “Indian Jujube” and anyone who might have bought the fruit of this weed is urged to call the Weed Management Branch on 89994567 so we can destroy it appropriately.
“The WMB issued the stall holders with a formal warning, which could be referred to in any future breaches of the Act.
“We will also work with market organisers to further educate stall holders on the ramifications of selling declared weeds.
“I’d like to thank the Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy (NAQS) who notified us of this incident so we were able to respond immediately, thus preventing further sales of chinee apple.”
Anyone who thinks they might have bought, sold or owns a declared weed should contact the Weed Management Branch on 89994567.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.