Pampas Grass – wedding trend or noxious weed?
There’s no doubt you’ve seen this striking wedding flower trend while scrolling pinterest planning your perfect outdoor Sydney wedding. Big, fluffy spears of pampas grass are the ultimate flower for that perfect boho style wedding.
But did you know, the much sort after grass is actually a noxious weed that is reeking havoc on our Sydney and wider NSW flora (and will also cost your wedding florist a cool $60,000 in fines if she/he is caught using it for your wedding..
What is pampas grass?
Pampas grass is a very tall, clumpy grass with fluffy flower heads. It competes with native vegetation, threatens forestry and is a fire hazard. Pampas grass can infest mangroves, riverbanks, and heathlands. The plants can produce up to100,000 seeds per flower head, and these seeds can spread to a 25 km radius in the wind. The Department of Primary Industries has declared Pampas Grass as a Class 3, regional controlled weed – in simpler terms, this means that pampas grass must be managed in a way that reduces its numbers, spread and incidence, and continually stops reproducing. The plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed.
Under the Biosecurity Act 2015, the City of Sydney has the power as the local control authority to inspect private land and issue orders for owners or occupiers to control noxious weeds. Basically, this local control authority (aka your local council) can and will come into any retail shop or studio (aka, your wedding florist) and remove any banned product (aka your pampas grass) and whack your florist with a serious fine (aka pretty much putting them out of business).
But, I’ve seen it used in other weddings. And my florist told me you can get treated pampas grass which removes all the seeds. So there’s no risk, right?
Wrong. So wrong. It’s true that pampas grass is not on the Australian list of noxious weeds (so it is available to buy/sell in other states, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is an invasive weed). And there are some companies who are importing the irradiated grass from California (meaning, all the seeds are destroyed or removed from the plant) along with certification of the treatment. But according to Rous County Council’s Kim Curtis, the Biosecurity Act means it is still illegal to sell pampas grass in NSW despite this treatment process, because it is impossible to tell which plants have been treated.
“These certificates aren’t issued by the Department of Primary Industries and we can’t prove that a particular stalk refers to a particular certificate.
Bugger. What are my options?
So, you really love the pampas grass look. I get it. It is very impressive! And I’m a total sucker for that overly fluffy look it creates. The way I see it, there are two options..
- Find yourself a florist who is willing to run the risk, while also knowing that the weight to your decision could have sever impacts on the surrounding environment.. think about it, you might use upwards of 20 pampas stalks for your ceremony.. thats 4 million potential seeds spreading thanks to your 30 minute wedding ceremony.. basically, give zero fucks about the environment (in case I’m not being obvious enough, this option is a TERRIBLE idea).
- Use something else! There are so many other beautiful grasses that are NOT weeds. Sydney growers know how popular this product is, and they are now going out of their way to find other, similar grasses that do not impact the environment. There are also fantastic, very realistic looking silk versions. Once you whack them into an arch with a bunch of other foliage, you wont even notice if they are real or not. I have invested in a bunch of the silk stuff, and it works a treat. Find yourself a reputable florist and they will be able to make lots of fantastic suggestions about how to achieve this look without destroying our precious flora.
So there you have it. Pampas grass. Love it or loath it, this wedding trend is here to stay. But at what cost?