Many plants can be brought in from the EU unrestricted, as long as they were grown in an EU country, are only for your personal use and are visibly free of pests and diseases.
Import of ash (Fraxinus) for planting, including seed, by any route is currently prohibited by law. This includes movement of Fraxinus within the UK as well.
You are also prohibited from bringing in sweet chestnut (Castanea) plants or seed and plane (Platanus) plants in passenger baggage.
There are also restrictions on those plants that can act as a host of Xylella fastidiosa. In regions where outbreaks have been declared, there is a considerable list of plants which cannot be moved from the control zone – this list consists of over 300 plant species.
Outbreaks have been detected in the following areas:
- France: Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur (PACA) (Southern France) and Corsica
- Italy: Provinces of Lecce and Brindisi (Southern Italy) and the promontory of Monte Argentario in the southernmost part of Tuscany
- Portugal: Municipality Vila Nova de Gaia
- Spain: Balearic Islands - Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza; Mainland – Alicante, Madrid and Andalucía
The RHS recommends that no plants are brought back from regions where Xylella is present. An outbreak of Xylella in the UK would lead to considerable impacts, including mandatory destruction of plants and movement restrictions on a huge number of plant species. In areas where Xylella is not present, you will still need to obtain a plant passport for those species found to be hosts for Xylella in Europe to bring them back to the UK. You can find a list of these species in this guidance document from Defra.
Remember, if you are uncertain if you can bring a plant back to the UK, you should contact your local plant health authority. Defra also have a pest alert advising consumers about the risk of Xylella.
Many other plants from the EU pose a threat to UK plant health, such as those that are hosts for pests that the UK has a protected zone for. The list includes those covered by the tree pre-notification scheme (below) as well as various palm species, due to the risk of palm borer and red palm weevil, and many conifer species due to the risk of regulated bark beetles. The RHS recommends that when bringing these hosts back to the UK, you ensure the supplier can meet the UK’s protected zone regulations.