The Illegality of Mother of Thousands: USA, UK, NSW, CALIFORNIA

The Mother of Thousands, scientifically known as Kalanchoe daigremontiana or colloquially referred to as the Devil’s Backbone, has stirred controversy due to its invasive nature. In certain regions, this succulent is not just discouraged but outright illegal to import, cultivate, or sell. This article aims to delve into the reasons behind these legality restrictions, exploring the ecological, economic, and legal dimensions of the issue.


The Mother of Thousands, a distinctive succulent adorned with serrated leaves and an uncanny ability to proliferate, has become a subject of contention. Named for its prolific reproduction strategy, it raises questions about its compatibility with various ecosystems. Particularly, we’ll unravel the intricacies surrounding its legality in certain states and countries.

Brief Overview of Mother of Thousands

The Mother of Thousands, native to Madagascar, boasts an interesting survival mechanism: the formation of tiny plantlets along the edges of its leaves. These miniature replicas, once detached, can swiftly take root in new environments. While this adaptation ensures the plant’s survival in the wild, it has also become a cause for concern in regions where it is not indigenous.

The Controversial Status: Illegal in Some Regions

Mother of thousands IllegalIn several Australian states, the Mother of Thousands plant is illegal to acquire, sell, or propagate. To prevent spread, eradicate these plants from your garden as soon as feasible. The Mother of Thousands plant is gorgeous yet dangerous. To avoid fines and penalties, avoid it in unlawful states.

Several states and countries have deemed the Mother of Thousands as an unwelcome guest, declaring it illegal to cultivate or trade. This stems from the potential harm it poses to local ecosystems, a consequence of its aggressive growth and propagation.

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Reasons for Legality Restrictions

The restrictive measures imposed on the Mother of Thousands are grounded in multifaceted concerns, ranging from ecological disruption to economic ramifications.

Invasive Spread

  1. Propagation Mechanism: Plantlets Along Leaves The unique reproductive strategy of the Mother of Thousands is both fascinating and problematic. As the plant matures, the edges of its leaves produce numerous tiny plantlets. These plantlets, resembling miniature clones, eventually detach and fall, ready to take root wherever they land.
  2. Rapid Colonization: Threat to Native Plants The ease with which these plantlets establish themselves contributes to the Mother of Thousands’ invasive reputation. Once established, it competes fiercely with native vegetation for resources, often outpacing and overpowering slower-growing indigenous plants.

Environmental Impact

  1. Altered Ecosystems The unchecked spread of Mother of Thousands can alter entire ecosystems. Native plants that have evolved to thrive in specific conditions may struggle to compete, leading to imbalances in biodiversity.
  2. Reduced Biodiversity and Regeneration The dense mats formed by Mother of Thousands can impede the regeneration of native plants. This reduction in biodiversity can have cascading effects on the entire ecosystem, affecting everything from soil composition to wildlife habitat.

Economic Consequences

  1. Damage to Crops Agricultural landscapes are not immune to the encroachment of Mother of Thousands. Its invasive nature can lead to damage to crops, affecting yields and potentially impacting local economies dependent on agriculture.
  2. Reduced Land Productivity and Increased Maintenance Costs Beyond agriculture, the presence of Mother of Thousands can reduce the overall productivity of land. The need for increased maintenance to control its spread adds financial strain, affecting both public and private landowners.

Legal Landscape

Understanding the legal status of Mother of Thousands involves examining the regulations implemented by various jurisdictions to curb its cultivation and spread.

Countries and States with Restrictions

  1. Australia Australia has recognized the potential threat posed by Mother of Thousands and has implemented strict regulations. Importing, cultivating, or selling the plant is prohibited.
  2. California In the state of California, where diverse ecosystems are particularly vulnerable, Mother of Thousands is illegal. The state has taken a proactive stance to prevent its establishment.
  3. Florida Florida, with its unique subtropical environment, has also listed Mother of Thousands as illegal. The state’s authorities are keen on preserving the delicate balance of their ecosystems.
  4. Hawaii Hawaii, known for its rich biodiversity, has joined the ranks of regions prohibiting Mother of Thousands. The island state recognizes the importance of safeguarding its native flora.
  5. Oregon The state of Oregon has identified Mother of Thousands as a threat to its ecosystems and has outlawed its cultivation and sale.
  6. Washington Washington State, with its diverse landscapes, has enforced restrictions on Mother of Thousands. This reflects a collective effort to protect native plants.

Noxious Weed Designation in Some Regions

In certain regions where outright illegality might not be feasible, Mother of Thousands is labeled as a noxious weed. While not strictly illegal, this designation discourages its cultivation and encourages landowners to take measures to control its spread.

Alternatives to Mother of Thousands

For those seeking succulents with less invasive tendencies, several alternatives provide the beauty of similar foliage without the ecological concerns.

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana

  1. Similar Appearance with Attractive Blooms Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, a popular houseplant, exhibits similar kalanchoe foliage while offering attractive blooms. This makes it an aesthetically pleasing alternative without the invasive traits.

Kalanchoe tomentosa

  1. Fuzzy-Leaved and Suitable for Indoor Terrariums Kalanchoe tomentosa, known for its fuzzy leaves, is a favored choice for indoor terrariums. Its manageable growth and non-invasive nature make it a suitable substitute.

Crassula ovata (Jade Plant)

  1. Popular Succulent with Compact Growth Crassula ovata, commonly known as the Jade Plant, is a popular succulent with attractive foliage and a compact growth habit. Its controlled growth makes it an excellent choice for those wary of invasive species.

Graptoveria ‘Opalina’

  1. Hybrid Succulent with Striking Pinkish-Purple Leaves Graptoveria ‘Opalina’ stands out with rosette-forming growth and striking pinkish-purple leaves. This hybrid succulent offers a visually appealing alternative without the invasive tendencies of Mother of Thousands.

Choosing these alternatives not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of indoor or outdoor spaces but also contributes to the preservation of native ecosystems.

Addressing Common Queries

As the legality of Mother of Thousands raises questions, it’s essential to address common queries to provide a comprehensive understanding.

Is Mother of Millions Illegal?

Mother of Millions (Bryophyllum delagoense), often confused with Mother of Thousands, shares similar characteristics but is distinct. While Mother of Millions is not universally illegal, its invasive nature prompts caution in various regions.

Poisonous to Humans?

Mother of Thousands contains compounds that, if ingested in significant quantities, can cause toxicity. However, casual contact is generally not harmful. Nevertheless, caution is advised, especially for households with pets or young children.

Invasive Characteristics

  1. Unchecked Propagation The Mother of Thousands’ ability to propagate rapidly, producing numerous plantlets, contributes to its invasive nature.
  2. Formation of Dense Mats The plant’s capacity to form dense mats further exacerbates its invasiveness, hindering the growth of native vegetation.

Utilitarian Aspects

  1. Historical Significance Mother of Thousands has historical significance in traditional medicine, where it was used for various ailments. However, its potential invasiveness now outweighs its historical utility.
  2. Modern Applications While historically used for medicinal purposes, modern cultivation is discouraged due to its ecological impact. Alternatives with similar appearances fulfill ornamental purposes without the risks.

Toxicity to Touch

While Mother of Thousands is not generally considered harmful through casual contact, individuals with sensitive skin may experience irritation. It is advisable to handle the plant with care.

Mother of Thousands Care Guide

For those who are legally allowed to cultivate Mother of Thousands or wish to care for similar succulents responsibly, a proper care guide is essential.

Sunlight Requirements

  1. Preferential to Full Sun Mother of Thousands thrives in well-lit conditions, preferring full sun exposure. Placing it in a location that receives direct sunlight for several hours each day promotes healthy growth.
  2. Adjustment Period When transitioning a Mother of Thousands to a location with increased sunlight, acclimatize it gradually to prevent shock. This can be achieved by exposing the plant to sunlight for progressively longer durations.

General Maintenance Tips

  1. Well-Draining Soil Plant Mother of Thousands in well-draining soil to prevent waterlogged conditions, which can lead to root rot. A mix designed for succulents or cacti is ideal.
  2. Moderate Watering While the succulent can tolerate periods of drought, it’s crucial to provide moderate watering. Allow the soil to dry out between watering sessions to prevent overhydration.
  3. Temperature Considerations Mother of Thousands prefers moderate temperatures and can be sensitive to extreme cold. Protect the plant from frost, as prolonged exposure can damage its leaves.
  4. Pruning for Control Regular pruning helps control the size of the plant and prevents the formation of excessive plantlets. Remove spent flowers and damaged leaves to maintain a tidy appearance.

By adhering to these guidelines, individuals can cultivate Mother of Thousands responsibly and mitigate its potential impact on the environment.

Mother of Thousands vs. Mother of Millions

Distinguishing between Mother of Thousands and Mother of Millions is crucial, given their similar appearances. While both share the characteristic of producing plantlets along leaves, subtle differences set them apart.

Distinguishing Features

  1. Leaf Shape Mother of Thousands typically has broader, more serrated leaves compared to the narrower leaves of Mother of Millions.
  2. Plant Size Mother of Thousands tends to be larger, with a more robust growth habit, while Mother of Millions is generally smaller and more delicate.

Legal Distinctions

  1. Varied Legality Mother of Thousands is illegal in specific regions due to its invasive nature. Mother of Millions, while also potentially invasive, may not face the same legal restrictions universally.

Legal Status in Specific U.S. States

Certain states within the U.S. have taken proactive measures to curb the spread of Mother of Thousands, recognizing its potential impact on local ecosystems.


California, with its diverse landscapes and ecosystems, has deemed Mother of Thousands illegal. The state’s regulations reflect a commitment to preserving its unique environmental balance.


In the subtropical state of Florida, where the introduction of invasive species could have severe consequences, Mother of Thousands is also illegal. Authorities are keen on preventing its establishment and spread.

spiritual meaning of kalanchoe flower

Exploring Uses of Mother of Thousands

Beyond its ecological impact and legal status, Mother of Thousands has historical significance and, in the past, was utilized for various purposes.

Historical Significance

  1. Traditional Medicine In traditional medicine, Mother of Thousands was used for its purported medicinal properties. It was believed to have healing properties for certain ailments.
  2. Cultural Practices The succulent held cultural significance in some regions, featuring in rituals and practices that valued its perceived properties.

Modern Applications

  1. Ornamental Purposes While historically significant, the modern cultivation of Mother of Thousands is discouraged due to its invasive nature. Alternatives with similar appearances are favored for ornamental purposes.
  2. Environmental Concerns The potential harm caused by Mother of Thousands to local ecosystems outweighs any historical or cultural significance. Responsible plant choices are crucial for environmental preservation.

Addressing Concerns about Pets

The presence of Mother of Thousands in households raises concerns about its impact on pets, prompting a closer examination of its potential risks.

Poisonous to Dogs

While Mother of Thousands contains compounds that can be toxic if ingested, the risk to dogs is relatively low. However, caution is advised, and pet owners should be aware of potential risks.

Poisonous to Cats

Cats, known for their curious nature, may be at a higher risk if they come into contact with Mother of Thousands. While severe toxicity is rare, monitoring pets and restricting access is advisable.

Market Dynamics

Understanding the market dynamics surrounding Mother of Thousands provides insights into its availability and potential economic impact.

Mother of Thousands Price

The market price of Mother of Thousands can vary based on factors such as size, health, and regional demand. However, its restricted status in certain regions may limit its availability, potentially influencing prices.


In conclusion, the Mother of Thousands, with its captivating appearance and prolific reproduction, has garnered attention for both positive and negative reasons. While historically significant and once used for medicinal and cultural purposes, its invasive nature has led to its illegal status in various regions. Understanding the ecological, economic, and legal dimensions surrounding Mother of Thousands is crucial for making informed decisions about its cultivation. As we navigate the delicate balance between appreciating the beauty of plants and preserving native ecosystems, responsible choices become paramount. Choosing alternatives with similar aesthetic appeal but less invasive tendencies is a step towards nurturing our environments for generations to come.

Read Next : Does Mother Of Thousands Flower? (Tips to Encourage Blooms)

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Amelia Clark

I'm Amelia Clark , a seasoned florist and gardening specialist with more than 15 years of practical expertise. Following the completion of my formal education, I dedicated myself to a flourishing career in floristry, acquiring extensive understanding of diverse flower species and their ideal cultivation requirements. Additionally, I possess exceptional skills as a writer and public speaker, having successfully published numerous works and delivered engaging presentations at various local garden clubs and conferences. Check our Social media Profiles: Facebook Page, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Youtube, Instagram Tumblr

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