20 February 2017

As pond season approaches, the Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association is reminding retailers that they can no longer sell four popular pond plants – unless they already have a contract in place with their suppliers.

American skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus), Cabomba (Cabomba caroliniana), Lagarosiphon major and water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) were banned from sale by the EU last year and retailers were given 12 months to sell their stock. So unless retailers put in an order with plant suppliers before 31 August 2016 they must not sell them this year. None of these plants can be sold from August 2017 onwards.

OATA is also offering guidance to retailers to help them find suitable alternatives for the future. These are:

Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), a floating pond plant.

Alternatives include Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) and Water Soldier (Stratiotes aloides) (a British native plant)

Curly Waterweed (sometimes incorrectly labeled Elodea crispa) (Lagarosiphon major), a submerged pond plant.

Best alternatives are any British native submerged aquatic plants

Yellow Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton americanus), a marginal/bog plant.

Alternative includes White Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton camtschatcensis)

Cabomba caroliniana, a popular aquarium plant.

Alternatives include Cabomba aquatica

Retailers should always check that their suppliers have correctly named plants to ensure they are not inadvertently selling plants they should not have on display.

OATA is also concerned that retailers may be offered Myriophyllum heterophyllum (a North American Water Milfoil) as an alternative submerged pond plant. This plant is known to be causing issues in other parts of Northern Europe and there is already a voluntary ban on selling this plant in Holland. The trade association is therefore calling on the UK industry to refrain from supplying and selling this plant to British pond owners.

“We do need to take care about selling plants that are causing an issue in Northern Europe where we have similar climate conditions – such as Myriophyllum heterophyllum,” explained OATA Chief Executive Dominic Whitmee.

“This is not a big seller in the UK so we’d ask the industry to act responsibly and not seek to replace any of the banned plants with one that has been flagged up as causing an issue. We have suggested some alternative plants to help industry replace those that can no longer be sold.”

Another concern is that retailers may turn to aquarium plant Egeria densa (which can sometimes be sold under the incorrect name Elodea densa). This plant should never be sold for use in ponds because of its potential to become invasive. This plant should only be sold for aquariums.

“This is another example of where the industry can act responsibly by not selling this tropical plant for ponds. It is not suitable for use in garden ponds because it tolerates cooler water too readily and it should only be sold for aquariums.”