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Prohibited import of Goji plants



Ref: 120/08
Date: 30 April 2008

The Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate has become aware of a substantial trade in prohibited Goji plants in the UK. In some cases they are being sold directly from nurseries, but mostly by mail order.

Goji berries (Lycium barbarum) are a so-called ‘superfood’, traditionally grown in the Far East, particularly China.  Goji plants belong to the solanaceous family, which means they are susceptible to certain quarantine pests and diseases which can affect crops such as potato and tomato. As Goji plants are perennials and relatively winter hardy plants, they have the potential to be source of infection for many years.  There is also the potential for transmission to naturalised plants nearby which could also act as a source of infection for subsequent years.

Plants of the solanaceous family, including Goji plants are prohibited from being imported to the EU from all countries outside the Euro-Mediterranean area (i.e. the area comprising Europe, Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia and the area of Turkey east of the Bosphorus Strait known as Anatolia). 

There is no restriction on the import of the berries themselves or seeds.

Most of the plants which have already been distributed are likely to have gone to individuals.  At this stage, no quarantine organisms have been detected in the limited number of plants which have been analysed by Defra’s Central Science Laboratory (CSL), but further testing is underway.  An initial assessment by CSL suggests that the risk to commercial solanaceous crops, such as potato or tomato is relatively low, as there are generally limited connections between amateur and professional production and commercial growers tend to be well aware of potential risks. 

Trade associations have been informed of this development, to ensure that commercial growers are aware, both to highlight the importance of checking the source of imported material and to encourage measures to protect against the low level of risk to commercial crops.

For more information contact your local Plant Health and Seeds Inspector.


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Page published: 30 April 2008