En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
2 ratings

Thursday - February 03, 2011

From: New York, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Plant Laws
Title: Possibility of transporting native seeds to Europe
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hi, Is it possible to bring seeds for North American plants and wildflowers from the USA to Europe? I live in Italy and have many Italian friends who want me to bring seeds from America the next time I travel back and forth. Grazie.

ANSWER:

We get lots of requests about sending North American native plant seeds to overseas locations, like bluebonnets for Afghanistan or England or Germany, for homesick Texans. If you are not exporting a large amount of seeds for sale, you probably will have no problems, particularly in leaving the United States, perhaps carrying the seeds in plastic packets in your luggage, as opposed to in your carryon luggage. We cannot advise you on the legality of this, that is out of our line. There is, however, always the possibility that taking foreign seeds into some particular destination will be challenged by the Customs officials there. We know that the Australians are particularly careful because so much of their land has been devastated by imported plants that have become invasive, destroying food plants for native animals and birds, and overrunning native areas. You should probably contact someone, perhaps in the Italian Legation in New York? about whether small amounts of seeds are permitted to be taken with you to Italy.

On the other hand, we don't like the idea of any seeds native to North America going to other countries and possibly becoming invasive. So many invasive damaging plants have been brought into the United States and ruined habitats all over the country. For instance, King Ranch bluestem grass was brought into the United States for grazing, and now is an invasive weed.  Or look at kudzu, the poster child for invasive plants; it was brought into the United States as an ornamental. We would hope that none of our native seeds could produce such a problem in Italy, but we don't want to find out we were wrong.

And, finally, we suspect that you would go to all this trouble and risk having your seeds confiscated somewhere along the way, and then your friends would discover that they won't grow in Italy. We choose to employ only plants native to an area because those plants are accustomed to the soils, rainfall and climate of that area with millennia of experience. The native pollinators are accustomed to going to those plants, they are browsed by animals or beautify fields; enjoy the native plants of Italy and leave the native plants of North America in North America.

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Fuzzy Citrus Fruit on Satsuma and Lemon Trees
September 13, 2014 - A man asked you about fuzzy little small fruit-like balls that looked like tiny lemons. I have huge numbers of these on both my mature Satsuma and lemon tree this year. I get 100's of really great f...
view the full question and answer

Bluebonnets for Shanghai
June 25, 2012 - I am a Texas native that now lives in Shanghai, and I am trying to grow a little piece of home (Texas bluebonnets) indoors, and I was wondering: a. Do you have any ideal soil recipes that bluebonne...
view the full question and answer

Foxglove safety from England
April 21, 2013 - Hi, regarding safety of foxgloves grown near edible plants - foxgloves are good companion plants for vegetables, in case of root vegetables they improve their storage life and quality. Foxgloves prote...
view the full question and answer

Can lantana be grown in British Columbia from Vernon BC
October 20, 2012 - Can I grow lantana in Vernon B.C. Canada?
view the full question and answer

Death of non-native eleaegnus from Austin
March 30, 2013 - We have a long hedge of elaeagnus, about 5 ft tall. Four of them died in the middle of the hedge. Where can we find such big plants? Is it advisable to unroot and transplant from another area?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center