EPPO Global Database

EPPO Reporting Service no. 10 - 2015 Num. article: 2015/198

Internet trade in invasive plants

The trade in live plants or propagules via the internet has increased substantially over the last few years as suppliers adapt the way they trade to capitalize on a global clientele. The current study developed a software tool that systematically downloaded internet offers of a pre-defined list of over 150 000 plant species from 23 flowering plant families over 50 days in 2014 from ebay.com and an additional 9 sites in Europe and the USA. Search hits were treated as valid if the species name was present in the header of an auction site. Data on sale offers were collected rather than actual sales, and for each sale offer the location of the sale offer was determined. A species was determined invasive if it was included in Weber (2003) or Rejmánek and Richardson (2013). In total 2 625 species were offered on eBay.com during the 50 day period and of these over 500 were invasive plant species in at least one region where they were associated with ecological or socioeconomic problems. For some plant families, up to 85 % of the species offered were invasive species. Many of the offers of invasive species were from the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia and most sellers offered to ship plants to most countries worldwide.


Humair F, Humair L, Kuhn F & Kueffer C (2015) E-commerce trade in invasive plants. Conservation Biology. DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12579.
Rejmánek M & Richardson DM (2013) Trees and shrubs as invasive alien species – 2013 update of the global database. Diversity and Distributions 19, 1093–1094.
Weber E (2003) Invasive plant species of the world. A reference guide to environmental weeds. CABI International Publishing, Wallingford, United Kingdom.