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CBP Inspects Flowers and More

Release Date: 
February 10, 2015

Looking for Thrips, Rusts, and Weeds

GREAT FALLS, Mont. — Every day U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists inspect imports of flowers, fruit, grain, and seeds to make sure they are free from pests and diseases.  Historically, CBP agriculture specialists inspect more cut flowers in cargo, and bouquets in passenger vehicles, between Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, than at any other time of the year.

CBP agriculture specialists inspecting greenery for the presence of plant pests and disease.

CBP agriculture specialists inspecting greenery for the presence of plant pests and disease.

Although Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day flower bouquets appear to be harmless, they can harbor hidden threats that could seriously damage U.S. agriculture and our natural resources.

In advance of this traditionally busy period for floral imports, CBP is reminding border crossers who plan to import flowers and plants to advise their florist that the arrangements are destined for U.S. delivery.  Some flowers and plant materials commonly found in floral arrangements are restricted or prohibited including gladiolas, chrysanthemums and choiysa (a green citrus-like floral filler) due to pest risk.  CBP also recommends travelers visit the CBP website’s “Know Before You Go” section here, before you travel.

Flowers may be infested with thrips, which are tiny insects that suck sap from leaves and flowers.  Thrips can cause considerable damage and losses to greenhouse grown flowers including carnations, chrysanthemums, and hibiscus.

CBP agriculture specialists also inspect for pathogens, such as Chrysanthemum white rust that may arrive on chrysanthemums or daisies.  Rusts are significant diseases that can affect decorative plants and cereal grains.  

Often flower bouquets include stems of greenery used to increase fullness.  Some types of foliage are listed as Federal Noxious Weeds (FNW).  CBP agriculture specialists receive training to be able to identify FNW, in seed form.  Other greenery, including flowering branches and stems from apple, cherry, pear, peach, almond, apricot, plum, and English laurel are prohibited because they can be hosts to fruit flies, Asian longhorn beetles, Plum pox virus, plus many other diseases or pests.

CBP agriculture specialists safeguard American agriculture by detecting and preventing entry into the country of plant pests and foreign animal diseases that could harm agricultural resources. They do this with inspection and prevention efforts designed to keep prohibited agricultural items from entering the United States.

The success of CBP's agriculture inspection program in preventing the entry of pests and diseases is a result of cooperative partnerships between stakeholders, CBP, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).  APHIS is responsible for establishing the regulations and guidelines that govern the import of agricultural products.  Private sector floriculture and agriculture stakeholders have become leaders in increasing voluntary compliance with agriculture quarantine policies, working with APHIS and CBP to conduct outreach to improve public awareness of the economic impacts from pest and disease infestations.

Fiscal year 2014 agriculture program inspection statistics can be found on the FY 2014 Agriculture Fact Sheet, here. 

Press information, including b-roll, photos, and additional statistics may be found on the Cut Flower Import page, Cut Flower Imports.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017