This is a long shot - how can I get Kava cuttings?

organic_wonderfulMarch 7, 2011

I live in the south east UK and have for months been looking for a kava-kava (Piper methysticum) cutting, which is a sedating herb rather like valerian, hops or skullcap. I cannot for the life of me find anywhere where I can buy the cuttings of this plant online. It's quite popular in Fiji, where the locals have ritual social gatherings where they make and drink Kava beverages.

I'd love to grow this plant in my greenhouse (even though growing it will take some care to provide the right conditions) so that I can use it occasionally at bedtime, to help me sleep at night.

As I said, this is a long shot, but does anyone know how or where I can get a Kava cutting to grow on?

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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Kava Kava has been banned in the UK since 2003 so I don't think you'll have much luck finding plants. p.s. I don't think your zone is really likely to be 10 unless you live in the Isles of Scilly.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 3:46AM
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^ it's just been banned for sale as a drug. It's not a criminal offence to grow it.

There are a lot of things you can grow which would be illegal to harvest and sell, like papaver somniferum (okay, not such a good example, but you get the idea!).

Zone 10? I'm lost.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 10:15AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

It's been banned for sale or distribution. While it may not be illegal to grow it, I would imagine that giving someone cuttings or plants could be construed as 'distribution'.

Regarding the zone, I thought the 10 after your name referred to your zone. These are US based forums and people often put their hardiness zone beside their name. It doesn't mean much to a UK gardener but it gives other users a vague notion of the climate here - albeit not very accurate.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hardiness zones

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 10:59AM
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^ okay, I'll try and keep that in mind. What zone would I be in? I live in the South East of the UK in Kent.

As for it being illegal, it's not illegal to buy from a company abroad and have it shipped in (I've actually bought kava kava pills before through mail order online with no issues whatsoever). Obviously I wouldn't be able to get it from a UK-based company.

To be honest, I'm not really concerned about silly laws like that anyway (I know you're just trying to be helpful and am not having a go).

But all this doesn't matter anyway, since I don't think I'll be able to find it. I think the best way would be to take a holiday in Fiji and actually get it myself and bring it back or ship it.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 3:07PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

The holiday in Fiji sounds like a good plan whatever the motive...

You'd be zone 8 - but they are fairly meaningless in the UK. We are so small and homogeneous that everyone knows what the climate is likely to be in a given area. But they loom large in US gardening for obvious reasons.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hardiness zones

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 5:38PM
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I too have been searching for years for a live Piper Methysticum. In 1996/97, Gnostic Garden were selling them.

Firstly, there is no law against the live plant. The kava ban was purely for internal consumption - products design to be ingested, such as dried root, kava extracts etc. Essentially, kava extracts could be sold for cosmetic purposes and stated that they are not for internal consumption. Live plants would have absolutely no restriction.

However, there is a law in Hawaii that prohibits any live kava plant being exported. Fiji seem to be pretty protective of their living heritage too.

I have made enquiries to several US based nurseries for them the get a phytosanitary certifcate and send a live plant. Unfortunately there was no uptake for this.

Today, I have found this place:

They say they'll send out plants anywhere, but if it gets stopped at customs, then that's that!

I too have thought of a holiday in Fiji and smuggling some live plants back, but that's an expensive and risky pursuit. I'm happy to pay money for the phytosanitary certificate to get one of these ultra-rare Europe-based plants...

They do have some live plants in Kew Garden you could always try and lift. And what's all the fuss about zones? Surely this would be a house plant and tended to in a very specific way? Afterall, after going through all the trouble getting one, you wouldn't want it to die?! Just make sure the thing's well insulated before it makes its journey in the summer months - it'll probably be put in the hold of an aircraft which can get pretty cool...

Here is a link that might be useful: Piper methysticum

    Bookmark   May 18, 2013 at 3:22PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

About US hardiness zones:

My understanding is that it referes roughly to the months of growing season from Last frost (spring) to first frost(fall or winter). Althouh there is a direct corelation between zone number and summer heat but not all zones 8s (for example) are the same. In my case ,I have lived in zone 8 in GA and now I am in zon 8 in Washington state. There is a minimum of 10F average summer temprature difference between the two. So Zone numbers are not that revealing.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 3:32AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

If I recall correctly, hardiness zones are more to do with the lowest temperatures a region sees rather than last/first frost dates - though the two things are obviously correlated.

I find the idea of plants surviving something like zone 1 utterly amazing. It was part of the reason I added the herb roseroot to my gardens. :)


    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 10:00AM
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If you go to Logees they have it on their website now. I was looking at to find out what this plant was and I see it's on sale. I'm not interested in it but I found this forum about and just wanted to let whoever is looking for the plant to buy that it's at

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 4:09PM
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