From 14th December 2019 new restrictions came into force to ensure all plants moving about the EU (and the UK) carry what is called a plant passport. This is a certificate, of sorts, that identifies where the plant came from, giving traceability.
This is new in some ways and not new in others. There has long been a global requirements for plant passporting into the EU countries from outside (non EU countries). It ensures the restriction and reduction of disease and to some degree the trade in rare plants. Of course there are idiots the world over who stick bits of plant in their luggage while on holiday and smuggle them back into the country but let’s put those aside for another post (rant!).
The rise and driver behind this new legislation has come from the rise and threat to our own native flora from the EU itself. Ash die back (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus), Oak Processionary Moth, Emerald Ash Borer, Box blight and moth, the list goes on. What has really got the industry terrified is the cause of the devastation of the ancient olives groves in Italy, over 1million trees are thought to have been destroyed. Also known as Olive Tree leprosy Xyllela fastidiosa is a bacterium affecting in the region of 600+ species of plant, not just Olives (Olea). Also know as Olive quick decline syndrome it blocks the Xyllemand so the plants ability to take up water. There is no known cure.
Spread by the leaf hoppers and cicada (family) insect in the EU and if found on a plant, all host trees and plants vulnerable to the bacterium, within a three-mile radius (5km) have to be destroyed and burned. Think about that, 600+ plant species affected and within a three mile radius all have to be destroyed. It is estimated 230,000 hectares (that’s around 280,000 football pitches!) of Olives were destroyed in Italy.
As a planting designer I can source and supply plants direct to clients from a registered nursery(s) and as long as I keep clear records for 3 years as a way of helping to trace back any diseased plants I’m following the rules. Designers supplying clients direct from nurseries can register with APHA to be a Professional Operator, which we have done. As we also grow and propagate some plants we are also a registered plant passporter. This means checks depending on what we grow and an annual audit of our process of traceability. It also means we will send you a plant passport with any plants you buy from us. the procesof being a passporter is actually not that onerous. Our audits take about half an hour and costs (2022 prices) about £123. Of couse you need to be organised and know what plants came from where and went to where but we all (mostly) do that, don’t we? If in doubt talk to your local Plant Health Inspector –
If you are thinking of buying plants online do make sure your supplier gives you a plant passport, it’s now the law, and don’t buy from those who want to bypass the system.
That is how Xylella will enter the country and our gardens and historic landscapes will be decimated.