GREEN THUMBS beware, NSW residents have been urged to stay on the lookout for the illegal sale of the prickly pear cacti as it threatens to cause widespread devastation.
While cacti are popular house plants due to their low maintenance lifestyle and their adaptability to an indoor and outdoor climate there is one type of cacti authorities are urging residents to avoid.
With its 'barbed wire' like bristles and sharp spines the prickly pear cacti can cause serious injury and infection in people and even kill animals and livestock.
With spring time bringing in a boost in plant sales, Liverpool Plains Shire Council councillor Doug Hawkins warned residents of the danger the prickly pear can have on the community.
"Prickly pears that are dumped in backyards or reserves can spread easily and rapidly," he said.
"It's prohibited to import prickly pears into NSW or sell or swap them in NSW for these reasons."
But it doesn't stop there, once in the environment the prickly pear can form thick walls of vegetation that is impenetrable and costs millions of dollars to manage.
Australia is home to more than 27 species of the prickly pear making their dangerous potential even more concerning. Gardeners should be wary of the different species which include the bunny ears, Eve's needle, smooth tree pear and blind cactus
Biosecurity Officer-Weeds for the council, Mike Whitney is urging residents to be on the lookout for suspicious plants as penalties ranging from $1,000 up to $220,000 would be enforced to avoid the prickly problem.
Anyone with information about the cacti is urged to contact NSW Crime Stoppers.