SAN DIEGO, CALIF.—With Mother's Day celebrations this weekend, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and agriculture specialists working at U.S. ports of entry are busy making sure that flower imports are free from insects, pests and diseases that could harm the agricultural and floral industries of the United States.
"Travelers need to declare all items acquired in a foreign country to the CBP officer upon entry to the United States," said San Diego Director of Field Operations for CBP, Pete Flores. "It is an important part of the CBP mission to identify and stop pests and diseases at the border before they can be spread elsewhere."
Chrysanthemums, gladiolas, and orange jasmine from Mexico are prohibited through the passenger ports of entry. Travelers cannot bring arrangements with those flowers into the country through a passenger port of entry, like the San Ysidro border crossing.
With the current restrictions, CBP is trying to prevent funguses called "Chrysanthemum White Rust" and "Gladiolus Rust" from entering the U.S. Additionally, some cut greenery, which are the plants used to fill a bouquet, may have pests or diseases. For example, Murraya (common name "orange jasmine") is a host for Asian citrus psyllid, a dangerous pest of citrus. If any portion of a bouquet has pests, the entire bouquet will be confiscated.
Roses, carnations, and most other flowers are allowed into the U.S. after they pass inspection. However, plants potted in soil cannot be brought from Mexico. Travelers must declare all flowers and plants to CBP officers.
If a traveler declares a bouquet with prohibited plants, it will be seized, but travelers can avoid possible penalties by ensuring that they declare the items. After a traveler declares a bouquet with no prohibited items, CBP agriculture specialists will inspect cut flowers and plants for any sign of insects, pests or diseases.
CBP recommends that people who wish to import flowers, plant materials, and other agricultural items consult the CBP website Know Before You Go section before they travel. They should also declare all items they've acquired abroad to CBP officers to avoid civil or criminal penalties.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.