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Are the plants you're selling/trading ILLEGAL?


Senior Member, Sophomoric Attitude
Hey all, I wanted to post this reply I received from a person who bought some stuff from me. This person claimed to work for USDA (the address I shipped to was a USDA office) and although not in APHIS proper, he asked around and wrote to me regarding plants on the noxious weed list and hobbyists selling them.

"Hi Bill,

I have an answer for you on the weeds. It is illegal to import any plant on the Federal Noxious Weed list. It is illegal to propagate, grow out and sell them within or across state borders. If the plants (weeds) were shipped to warm climate states like Florida, Louisiana, and California there are more problems and stiffer penalties. Many southern states have their own laws and law enforcement teams that investigate this type of trade on top of the Federal agencies....

There is a branch of APHIS called SITC (Smuggling Interdiction & Trade Compliance) which investigates these types of crimes. They take their job very seriously. Currently they have a team checking internet websites like Aquabid, Ebay etc ... Often these sites are monitored for some time before they act (case building) on the offenders, fines can be high. Hobbyist can be the worst offenders; they are not under the radar anymore. Some law enforcement officers are "making" their careers by stopping all types of hobbyist and collectors who trade in illegal commodities and animals (CITES plants and animals, exotic pets too).

That is all I know. Again, I suggest that this person does not offer any Federal Noxious Weed plants for sale any more. They should also destroy what plants they themselves currently have. They never will know if there past activity will bring a future knock on the door from law enforcement.

I hope that helps."

This person wrote this so it should NOT be construed as the law by any means! It certainly may as well be true. Anyone selling/trading plants should do a quick search for noxious weeds in the U.S. and the state they're shipping to as well I would think.

Here is a link that should prove helpful...



hygrophilia polysperma is on that list and there are a number of people who propagate the stuff here in MN. I grow the stuff in my tank. it grows great and looks even better. he can try to come take mine.


(So chill.) No wonder it's freezing
Very interesting! I have never bought or sold anything on the noxious weed list, but I did have Egeria densa at one point (listed as "invasive"), purchased at Petsmart. I had heard about it being regulated before in some states, but the fact that it is not yet listed as "noxious" explains why they still sell it in retail stores.

This post brings up some good information - in cases of buying/selling noxious plants, both the buyer and seller are held accountable if legal action is taken. Places like eBay and Aquabid do have a legal responsibility to turn over information on both parties involved in illegal transactions on these public outlets (read their terms and conditions). Many folks think the anonymity of the internet is some form of protection, when the reality is most users can be traced back by their IP address and easily identified. Heck, my firewall has a simple event tracker where I can see IPs that tried to access my computer and then trace the IP - 9 times out of 10 it gives me a phone number and addresse of the person the IP is registered to!

Folks need to be weary - remember Napster? Everyone knew trading the songs was illegal. People did it anyway, with no immediate consequences...then after a couple of years the government decided they had collected enough information to prosecute.


AC Members
Why are there some states missing ie... New York
and great job Bill Thanks for this info.


(So chill.) No wonder it's freezing
I know we have some in NY considered "invasive", but they aren't typically aquatic. The only aquatic ones that come to mind are Eurasian Milfoil Weed and one of the hardier cabomba types (name escapes me). From personal experience, that milfoil stuff sucks big time, we have a camp on Skaneateles Lake and it's taking over the shoreline along the East side (sunny side). Winter doesn't touch it since it grows deep and revives in the Spring.


AC Members
For a moment i was confused cause i couldn't find New York state on the list.

So hygrophilia polysperma is a noxious weed on the federal level ? Lovely....now what ?

I just saw several pots full of it at a local LFS.


Senior Member, Sophomoric Attitude
Yes, any plant listed as noxious at the Federal level is noxious in all states. I've only just started looking into permits but as with brig snails, if you have a permit and follow their practices, open yourself to inspections, I THINK, you can get a permit for them. Otherwise, how are the stores and online retailers doing it?

Yes, I believe climate has a lot to do with it. If it can't survive in the wild, there's no threat of it choking out established indigenous species.


The Picotoper
beviking said:
Yes, I believe climate has a lot to do with it. If it can't survive in the wild, there's no threat of it choking out established indigenous species.
yeah... my state, alaska, doesn't have any invasive plants for that reason, but it does have some noxious weeds. heck, I don't think we have any aquatic plants other than algae!