The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has warned nursery operators and residential growers in southern Queensland about the illegal sale and purchase of banana plants. DPI Plant Health Inspector Paul McCarthy said the warning follows recent investigations that have revealed plants have been sold in southern Queensland without prior DPI approval. Investigations have also revealed that purchasers were not in receipt of an inspector’s approval allowing them to move and plant the banana plants. Mr McCarthy said nursery owners who sell plants to people without approvals and residential growers buying and planting banana plants without approval could face fines of up to $75,000. “There is some confusion about the requirements for residential banana plantings in southern Queensland,” Mr McCarthy said. “In general, to transplant any bananas, including Ladyfingers, in your backyard you need to obtain a free planting approval from the DPI. This will be issued if source material is acceptable and the plants are permitted varieties for the area. There are only a couple of certified sources we are aware of – one in Brisbane and one in Gympie and the Brisbane nursery only sells Lady Fingers for $16.95 per plant. “Residential plantings are defined as those bananas not grown for commercial purposes, that is, they are not for sale. Residential growers may plant a maximum of 10 plants of permitted banana varieties, but only after obtaining an inspector’s written approval.” The only permitted varieties for residential growers in southern Queensland are Ladyfinger, Blue Java, Ducasse, Goldfinger, Bluggoe (plantain or cooking banana), and Kluai Namwa Khom (Dwarf Ducasse) and Pisang Ceylan. “The reason behind only being able to plant these varieties is that all banana plants, including Ladyfinger, are susceptible to Banana Bunchy Top Virus. The varieties identified for residential use grow taller making them easier to see when conducting residential property inspections for the disease. Varieties such as Ladyfinger tend to show the bunchy top virus symptoms clearly as opposed to Cavendish varieties.” Banana plants are also susceptible to Panama - a soil borne fungus often moved in infested planting material. “By contacting the DPI to discuss suitable planting material and applying for an inspector’s approval, which is free of charge, residential growers will be helping to ensure banana plants in the region are free from these diseases.” For more information about growing bananas or if you suspect your plants are diseased contact a plant health inspector at your nearest DPI office or phone the DPI Call Centre on 13 25 23.