Invasive plants threatening our borders
  • Last updated:
  • 04 Jan 2022

There are many restricted invasive species found in neighbouring local government areas but not yet in the Sunshine Coast Local Government area. These are our Regional Alert Species.

Some of these are Weeds of National Significance (WoNS) because of their invasiveness, potential for spread and impacts they cause.

They all pose serious threats to our region so we need to keep them out. Early detection and reporting are key to preventing these species from establishing in our region.

Be on the lookout for these species in your area. If you see any of these, be sure to report to council as soon as possible.

  • African boxthorn (WoNS)

    African boxhorn (Lycium ferocissimum) is an aggressive invader of natural areas, roadside and pastures. It forms sharp-spined thickets that are impenetrable by stock and native animals.

    It is a perennial shrub that grows up to 5 metres tall. The main stem has large spines and each branchlet ends with a spine.

    View Biosecurity Queensland's African boxthorn factsheet for more information (including images) to help identify this species.

  • Alligator Weed (WoNS)

    Alligator weed (Alternanthera philoxeroides) is a serious threat to waterways and wetlands. It grows vigorously and can outcompete native vegetation. It is also a major threat to irrigated cropsthreatening industries such as vegetable growing and turf farming.

    Alligator weed can grow on both land (in damp soil) or water. It can grow out from riverbanks and form dense floating mats.

    View Biosecurity Queensland's alligator weed fact sheet for more information (including images) to help identify this species.


  • American Rat's Tail Grass

    American rat's tail grass (RTG) (Sporobolus jacquemontii) is one of several weedy Sporobolus grasses already known to occur in our region (see note below). These grasses invade pastures, replacing pasture grasses, reducing productivity. Weedy grasses can also significantly impact natural areas. 

    American RTG grows in dense tufts generally 50 - 75 cm tall and up to about 1 metre in height. It looks similar to other weedy Sporobolus grasses and some native grasses when young.

    Visit the Biosecurity Queensland website for more information (including images) to help you identify this species.

  • Hairy senna/Hairy cassia

    Hairy senna/hairy cassia (Senna hirsuta) is a shrub that readily colonises disturbed areas such as pastures, roadsides and fence lines. It also impacts natural areas—invading creek banks and rainforest edges.

    Hairy senna is a perennial shrub that grows up to 3 metres tall. It may be single or multi-stemmed. It has hairy seed pods that grow 10-14 cm long containing up to 90 round seeds.

    View the hairy senna fact sheet for more information (including images) to help identify this species.


  • Harrisia Cactus

    Harrisia cactus (Harrisia martinii, H. tortuosa and H.pomanensis syn. Cereus pomanensis) forms dense infestations that can make pastures unsuitable for stock. It produces large amounts of seeds that are spread by birds and other animals.

    Harissia cactus has long branches that extend about half a metre high. Stems are spikey and can take root where they touch the ground.

    View Biosecurity Queensland's harrisia cactus fact sheet for more information (including images) to help identify this species.

  • Prickly acacia (WoNS)

    Prickly acacia (Vachellia nilotica) invades native grasslands, open woodlands and open forests. It forms dense thorny thickets that impact biodiversity and can interfere with stock movement and water access.

    Prickly acacia is a shrub or small tree that grows from 4-5 metres high up to 10 m high. When young. prickly acacia is thorny. As it grows older it generally loses its thorns.

    View Biosecurity Queensland's prickly acacia fact sheet for more information (including images) to help identify this species.

  • Prickly pear - Bunny ears

    Bunny ears (or Golden bristle cactus) (Opuntia microdasys), like other prickly pear species, are highly invasive.

    Bunny ears is a dense shrub that grows up to 60 cm tall. It has pad-like stems that always grow in pairs. It has clusters of 2-3mm long hair-like prickles.

    View Biosecurity Queensland's bunny ears fact sheet for more information (including images) to help identify this species.

  • Prickly pear - Drooping tree pear

    Drooping tree pear (O. monacantha syn. O. vulgaris) displaces native vegetation and pasture species. It can form dense infestations that limit access and stock movement.

    Drooping tree pear is an succulent shrubs that grows 2 - 3 m, up to 5 m  high. Its trunk grows up to 25cm in diameter.  It has glossy green pads that tend to droop. Older pads have spines up to 5 cm long.

    View Biosecurity Queensland's Opuntioid cacti fact sheet for more information (including images) to help identify this species.

  • Prickly pear - Velvety tree pear

    Velvety tree pear (Orpuntia tomentosa) rapidly invades natural areas and pastures. It outcompetes native vegetation and reduces productivity of pastures.

    Velvety tree pear grows up to 6 metres high with a central woody trunk. Young plants have clusters of spines of up to 2.5 cm in length. As the plant matures it usually becomes spineless.

    View Biosecurity Queensland's velvety tree pear fact sheet for more information (including images) to help identify this species.

  • Rubber vine (WoNS)

    Rubber vine(Cryptostegia grandiflora) is a robust, woody climber that spreads quickly. It  prefers moist areas, usually invading waterways first before expanding outwards. It forms dense thickets that smothers native vegetation and impact grazing land.

    Rubber vine is a vigorous climber with whip-like shoots. It scrambles over shrubs and trees but can also form an unsupported shrub.

    View Biosecurity Queensland's rubber vine fact sheet for more information (including images) to help identify this species.

  • Tobacco weed
    Tobacco weed (Elephantopus mollis) is a fast growing herb that is considered a serious threat to agriculture. It is a fast-growing herb that produces large amounts of seeds. This results in the growth of dense masses of seedlings that can easily smother healthy pastures.

    Tobacco weed grows up to 150 cm tall. It has leaves that are oval shaped and hairy. 

    View Biosecurity Queensland's tobacco weed fact sheet for more information (including images) to help identify this species.

  • Water mimosa (Report to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23)
    Water mimosa (Neptunia oleracea and Neptunia plena) is an aquatic legume. It poses a serious threat to our waterways and wetlands.  Water mimosa can grow in damp soil or on water—forming dense floating mats of interwoven stems. It reduces water quality and impacts native aquatic plants and animals.

    Water mimosa takes root on streambanks and grows out over the water. When touched, water mimosa leaflets close up. This makes water mimosa easy to identify.

    View Biosecurity Queensland's water mimosa fact sheet for more information (including images) to help identify this species.