Pretty but problematic: trendy wedding plant a noxious weed
FLORISTS and brides-to-be have been urged to put biosecurity ahead of one big wedding trend.
Pampas grass has long stalks and beautiful, fluffy flower heads.
They're supremely photogenic and Instagram posts of the caramel-toned grass at a Byron Bay wedding has seen it rise to star status on the wedding scene in recent years.
But Rous County Council biosecurity officer Kim Curtis has warned the plant's popularity could re-introduce the noxious weed into North Coast habitats where it was eradicated 20 years ago.
With that could come hefty fines; Ms Curtis said it was illegal to sell, buy, grow, carry or release pampas grass into the environment in NSW.
She said Rous County Council staff had recently spoken with three North Coast florists after they became aware of the grass being used and had seized the plants, but not issued fines at this stage.
She said spreading the weed could potentially result in fines of up to $1 million.
"The fines could be quite steep,” she said.
"We have that legislation behind us but we don't like to use it.”
The plant can carry 100,000 seeds per flower head and these can travel up to 25km.
In picturesque but windy hilltop wedding venues, she said there would be a great risk of infesting surrounding areas.
Ms Curtis urged florists to resist the urge to supply the plants and to instead offer native options.
"Here on the North Coast we've got beautiful native alternatives,” she said.
One wedding planner said pampas grass had "definitely been popular over the last year”.
She said florists would bend to pressure from brides through fear of losing work.
"Brides want what they want, it can be quite hard to convince them not to do something,” she said.
Bower Botanicals owner Jaala Mills, who is based in Byron Bay, said pampas grass had been used in local weddings regularly.
Ms Mills, based in the Byron Shire, said florists wanted to be on the same page about whether they could use even irradiated plants, where the seeds are not viable.
Ms Curtis said it was impossible to distinguish between treated and non-treated specimens.
"There's absolutely no way to tell,” she said.
Ms Mills said she was, however, encouraging couples to use native alternatives.
"We're passionate about the environment and would never want to do anything to harm it,” she said.
"Of course, we don't want (pampas) re-introduced here... (but) we're trying to do the right thing.”