Smuggling in plants and plant material

Ellen Sutter egsutter at UCDAVIS.EDU
Fri Aug 25 15:55:52 EST 1995

The following message was apparently sent by someone unaware of the
devastation that can result from the introduction of exotic (=not native)
insects and diseases into the U.S. Although some might think the USDA
regulations are unecessary one only has to look at the story of the
American Chestnut and American Elm to see that entire species can indeed be
wiped out by introduction of exotic pests. Although it is true that viruses
and other diseases are rarely carried in seeds, there are some examples
which are potentially ruinous to U.S. agriculture.  Prunus can be infected
by a serious virus that is seed transmitted and I am sure that there are
other examples.  In addition to chestnut and elm there are many more horror
stories of people bringing in plant material that carries some sort of
insect or disease  with no natural predators here in the U.S.  The pest
then grows uncontrollably and wipes out entire species.  Please, please
take the U.S.D.A. regulations seriously.
        Ellen Sutter

>I smuggled some seeds back to Massachusetts from a weird purple
>fruit that was on sale in an area of tropical dry forest in
>Costa Rica.  I have grown this into small trees that look and behave
>a lot like temperate trees.  They have disposable deciduous leaves,
>and  twigs that have a "look" like a temperate tree , i.e. with
>buds, none of the greenish fleshyness or thick leaves of a tropical
>evergreen.  I wonder if this thing would survive a frost.  It evolved
>to go into dormancy in response to drought, so perhaps the physiology
>is the same as dormancy in response to cold.  Has anyone tried
>this.  How many people think I will just end up killing my plant?

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