Environmental invader routed by Helpline call

4 Sep 2020

Charles Mifsud and Rous County Council biosecurity team members, Eddie Hayward and Brook Hooson

Frogbit, an invasive, smothering waterweed which poses a serious threat to our environment, has been found along a 36-kilometre stretch of water near Lismore following a call from a member of the public to the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Biosecurity Helpline.

NSW DPI State Priority Weeds coordinator, Charles Mifsud, said Rous County Council weeds officers found frogbit, Limnobium laevigatum, growing in Coopers and Boomerang Creeks, the first time the weed has been identified in a North Coast waterway.

“We’re working with council weeds officers and the North Coast Local Land Services to detect and manage frogbit infestations between Dorroughby and Woodlawn,” Mr Mifsud said.

“Frogbit, or Amazon frogbit, is native to Central and South America and it is illegal to grow or sell the plant in NSW as it poses a serious biosecurity risk.

“Plants which have been illegally sold for use in ponds and aquariums were illegally dumped and have now infested our waterways.

The first known incursion of frogbit in NSW waterways was at Green Point in 2017 and infestations have since been found in the Georges River, Prospect Creek, Fairfield, Smithfield, Greystanes, Plumpton, Bulahdelah, Cowra and Forster.

All known infestations in NSW have been treated to eradicate the devastating weed, which forms large dense mats across the water's surface, prevents native water plants from growing, reduces light, food and shelter for fish and other aquatic animals and can block waterways and irrigation channels.

Mr Mifsud said frogbit has been found in backyard ponds and aquariums and for sale in aquarium shops, at markets and online.

“If you suspect a plant you see in our waterways or for sale at a market, shop or online is frogbit, please call the NSW DPI Biosecurity Helpline 1800 680 244 or your local council, who can assist in identification and eradication,” he said.

“Frogbit is a nasty weed and we need everyone to know this plant must not be sold or grown in NSW.”

More information and photographs of about frogbit are available online: https://weeds.dpi.nsw.gov.au/Weeds/Details/286

Hi-res images are available from bernadette.york@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Media contact: Bernadette York 0427 773 785