Has anyone imported plants from Japan?

Gardener_KS(zone 5 KS)November 27, 2004

On my next trip to Japan, I would like to bring back one or two bonsai. Have any of you done this? How did you arrange for the certificate of plant health?

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Bringing back bonsai from Japan is a very difficult task (to do it legally, that is). To be able to import live plants from another country requires a license (I believe) that is extremely hard for an individual to get. Even if you do obtain the license, it has to be insured that the bonsai is carrying no unwanted diseases or pests. That often means fumigation, bare-rooting, and also a period of quarantine. This process is extremely hard on the bonsai, and can often end up killing them.


    Bookmark   November 28, 2004 at 9:11AM
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edzard(3b Canada)

Canada is tougher than the US... yet still relatively easy if process is followed. We've done both import and export.

-find out what restrictions there are at your first Port of Entry. Then the second Port of Entry/State reg's or however many times you land at a Port on the way home. If it is direct it is much easier.
These restrictions will list disease's, pathogens, to species. Some States allow soil, some do not. Get a list of Indexed Viruses for the State.

Apply for a Permit for the species allowed and the ones you will/might be importing. Consider having it sent after you return home based on what restrictions there are = how specific the State is.

Find out which area, specifically you will be purchasing from. Cross match the Indexed Viruses, and the province with State you will be Importing from. Cross match the species and CIV' Certified Indexed Viruses.
Specify the nurseries, and conditions of Import, bare-root, w. soil, sprayed with what? packaging requirements, contact the Port Inspection people.

have inspection done in Japan, by agency, collect paperwork, pay them the 50$.

Specify dates of arrival, make apptmnt with Agri Agency on US side.

In Japan, note all particulars, address, Proprietor, what virus's on the plant, nemotodes allowed banned, etc, follow required procedure.

Boxing/container, plastic bag, sprayed, reduced soil mass, no pot, --wire the rootball to the bottom of the box so it can be turned upside down or any direction. Make it easy to inspect.

In between is also seasonal considrations.. in dormancy, reduce leaves/needles, wrap foliage in wet newspaper, and make sure the species is not sensitve to altitude.

Pay tariff.
take home -pot, if bare root use -dust-dip cutting hormones on roots, place plastic bag over tree, leave air space, start cycling the tree's system. Use heat cable under pot, bring to 82F, Do not water use mist and foliar moisture then water sparingly second day, third... ensure that the tree remains moist on foliage and that the soil is beginning to dry out. One sparing watering is done to settle soil around the roots. Water with a slurry of willow roots put through blender - or use aspirin. No fertilizer.
problem is that the vascular pressure differences that draw moisture through the tree have been disrupted, this system needs to be started up again. Remembering that trees grow by the difference of atmospheric pressure.

remember that 60% of the ornamental species in the US are from Japan or China, normally via Japan.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2004 at 3:20PM
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Gardener_KS(zone 5 KS)

Edzard-sensei...domo arigato! I really appreciate the detailed answer. I figured there would be quite a process. Would nurseries in the Omiya area be familiar with exporting to the US?

    Bookmark   November 28, 2004 at 5:46PM
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Gardener. I think you may be out of luck. I have imported a dozen or so bonsai, legally, over the last few years, carrying them back from Japan in my luggage. In 2001, it was simply a requirement to get them (ie certain allowable species) inspected at the airport's USDA counter. I had spoken with USDA HQ in Maryland to get specifics on allowable species, etc.
In 2003, import restrictions became much tighter, with height limited to 12 inches...and a phytosanitary certificate from Japan's agriculture dept., in addition to inspection on entry. Fair enough. However, a friend tried a similar approach this summer on returning from Korea, and met with confiscation of her two hornbeams. It seems, depending on who is interpreting the regs, that is, what airport/USDA inspectors you end up in front of, that in addition to a height restriction of 12 inches, the caliper of the trunk could be no more than a pencil...essentially limiting to 'whips' or seedlings, which might still be worthwhile, however. You might try talking to the USDA folks in Maryland, as well as the USDA counter at your port of entry (the folks at O'Hare have been good to deal with for me...forget San Francisco) to see what the current climate for carry-on imports is, and a list of allowable species.The link below takes you to a relevant EPA site. Worries over long-horn beetle importation were, in large part, responsible for the clamp down. Import requirements require that bonsai be grown for 2 years prior to import in an 'approved' nursery environment...except that none existed in Japan. Brussels (and another importer whose name escape me) have been able to arrange a work-around, by building a post entry quarantine facility to house trees for two years before sale.

Here is a link that might be useful: EPA

    Bookmark   November 28, 2004 at 6:54PM
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Sorry, I guess it was 2002 that the new regs went into effect.
In addition, I have read some stuff on an amendment to the regs which will allow import of certain penjing/bonsai from China without the need for bare rooting...

Here is a link that might be useful: epa penjing link

    Bookmark   November 28, 2004 at 7:01PM
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mark_rockwell(7 Va)

There are also, if I'm not mistaken, originator nursery requirements now in effect requiring the plants aimed at U.S. import be grown for two years in screened conditions on benches of specific height. The 24 inch tree height restriction mentioned by SC has more to do with the trunk caliper, I think. Larger bonsai usually have larger trunks and are better host plants for the Asian Longhorn Beetle. Alot of the newer restrictions are aimed at specifically at preventing spread of this pest which could potentialy cause catastrophic damage (or at least according to the EPA). The bugs were been found in several imported lots of larger Chinese elm bonsai about four years ago, which spurred the new regulations.

I doubt very much bonsai nurseries in Omiya will jump through these hoops to ship to U.S., unless you have very very deep pockets.

Good luck...

    Bookmark   November 29, 2004 at 11:00AM
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Gardener_KS(zone 5 KS)

Whew! Lots of info here, and so much red tape. Interesting that penjing from China might be easier to import. I saw some awesome trees in Beijing last summer.

Many thanks to Edzard, SCBonsai, and Mark R. I doubt that my pockets are deep enough!

    Bookmark   November 29, 2004 at 7:53PM
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edzard(3b Canada)

this still sounds much like individual cases rather than how to import a plant.

first,.. it is necessary to have trade, therefore they try to make it possible.

Korea is a different program from Japan for different reasons, different bugs, different trade deficit.
In turn, avoiding hornbeam, or as indicated by the specified Asian Longhorn Beetle, indicates avoiding all bonsai with jin, shari or any other deadwood. That is all they are saying, avoid the host plant and the secondary hosting cavities. (wooden pallets, dead wood)

The heights of plants in luggage are an insurance issue, --some one imported in luggage, then it broke, then they claimed,... sorry, size restriction in effect.
the same as carry on luggage is a size restriction.
Crated, there would be a different parameter, as long as the crating is not wood. Translucent coroplast works well, see through, some insulation value, easy to inspect or spray.. make it easy for them so they can make it easy for you. And it is the material that Japan chooses to use.

--this is like a building code.. importation needs to be safe on both sides, considering that new laws are in effect that the importer may be liable for infestations and their cleanup. With the newest emerald Ash Borer... I would not wish to be responsible, yet it orginated from one group of pallets behind a shipping company, now its 80% to the west coast.

just ask what you can do, what they will assist you with... they are there to help you, that is their job.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2004 at 8:49PM
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mark_rockwell(7 Va)

Here's a link to the APHIS "How To Import plants" site. Note restrictions, bare rooting requirements, etc.

Asian longhorn beetle bore through living tree tissue to create tunnels throughout healthy trees. That's what makes them so dangerous. They can hide in healthy bonsai without jin, shari, or exposed deadwood, as well as crating and pallet wood. That's why the restictions on big bonsai were put into effect. The bugs were found in the trunks of otherwise healthy chinese elm bonsai imports in Washington state, if I remember correctly. That discovery was made by the importer, who notified the government, who then destroyed the entire shipment.

Here is a link that might be useful: Aphis plant import procedure

    Bookmark   December 1, 2004 at 11:13AM
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Chinese tree peony named Two Beauties is amazing, do you ever see this peony? It is the most beautiful peony I have ever seen. How gorgeous the color is! Do you love it ?This is the hot spot in my garden this summer.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 9:52PM
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This Japanese tree peony has little quantity, varieties and colors; they are more precious than other peonies. "Shima-Nishiki' is a tree peony. It is a multi-stemmed, deciduous, woody shrub that typically grows to 3-4' tall and as wide. Upward facing, mildly fragrant, semi-double peony flowers are purplish-red with prominent white striping. Yellow center stamens provide excellent contrast. Flowers bloom in early spring. Medium green foliage is deeply divided into oval to lance-shaped leaflets. Foliage remains attractive throughout the growing season. No fall color. 'Shima-Nishiki' means fire flame in Japanese. Planting Japanese tree peony is easy, add compost as needed before planting and best grown in deep, fertile, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerance of summer heat is Shima-nishikiâÂÂs special character . This beauty should be shown in your garden. Do you like it?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 11:23PM
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