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Bonsai on air travel

Posted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 8:45 pm
by Elmguy

I will move to Europe and am thinking to take my bonsai with me on the airplane, chinese elm, mature, good health.

I know by now that I need to get a phytosanitary certificate to import the tree over there and I know about the application procedure, etc. The problem is that the tree needs to be without soil for the inspection as well as flight and import.

So here is the scenario so far: On the day of the flight, the tree would be taken out of its pot, stripped of all soil. The inspection would be done, certificate issued. I'd keep the roots in a pot with water until right before I have to head for the airport. Then I'd wrap the root ball in wet paper and then plastic around it to prevent trying out. Anything from the trunk upwards would also go into a plastic bag to minimize exposure to extremely dry air during flight. The tree goes into a well padded box (no light from this point on). I catch my flight, import the tree over there using the phyto. Repotting soil and utensils would be prearranged at destination. Upon arrival, the tree would immediately be repotted into new soil. Estimated time period for tree without soil: ca. 24-26h, around 22h of those in complete dark with lots of vibration, some 11h in dry air on flight (exposure reduced with plastic wrapping).

My question is: What are the chances of survival for the tree? I would really love to keep it, been working on it for years. But wouldn't take it along if chances of survival are reasonably bad....

Posted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 10:30 pm
by Gnome

Bonsai are routinely shipped through the mails domestically so I don't see anything terribly troublesome with your plan itself. Are you sure that you have thoroughly investigated the bureaucratic issues? If I'm not mistaken Walter Pall has been forced to leave some purchased trees in the States due to the importation restriction into (I believe) Germany. I would hate for you to go through all that only to have to abandon it at the airport.

We cannot import ALL Acer, Ulmus, Malus, Quercus and some more. Import of deciduous trees comes to a satndstill for several years.

Of course not. It (importation) is strictly forbidden. And then the best trees are not for sale.


Posted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 11:07 pm
by Elmguy
I assume they wouldn't be shipped without soil domestically...? Because that is a strict requirement for the import.

I was speaking to the field agent in my state in the US who would be performing the examination for the certificate. According to him, there should not be a problem getting Chinese elm into Germany (I actually would need to clear customs there) from here.

So I don't know if the problems Walter Pall talks about are regarding import from Japan, or are regarding import into Germany. I'll try to get into contact with him, thanks for that link.

Posted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 11:16 pm
by Gnome

At the bottom of the page (second link) you'll find this:
Walter Pall said...

The EU forbids import of trees from America. A few yeas ago it was still possible though.

December 10, 2009 5:56 PM

Walter is well known in the community as a knowledgeable individual and since he is on the the EU side I assume he would be aware of their restrictions, perhaps more so than an inspector on this side.

I hope you have time to investigate this first.


Posted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 11:30 pm
by Elmguy
Thanks for the info. I just wrote an email to Walter and asked him about the situation. I will certainly spend some time on researching this before I consider taking the tree along (apart from the hostile conditions of the transport itself).

The agent of the Dept. of Agriculture in my state who I spoke to seemed to have researched the import restrictions in Germany, so this news is quite disturbing to me. I will certainly also contact him again.

I'd hate to have to give up the tree, but I'd even hate more taking it along to its certain death.

Posted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 2:31 am
by Tachigi
You will find that a phyto cert for the Eu is impossible to get...unless your tree has been reared in a certified nursery and even then it is a difficult process.

I tried for the first time to export a yew to a UK customer and found out today(after weeks of red tape) that it can't be done...and I am a certified nursery.

My suggestion is that you find a nice home for your tree or a friend that will take care of it until you return to the states

Posted: Mon Jun 28, 2010 8:14 pm
by Elmguy
Hm, you seem to be in PA, I'm in NJ. at what point during the process of getting a phyto cert did you find the problems?

So far, it seems the agent who will do the inspection is confident that the phyto can be issued. Condition is no soil, roots need to be washed out. Also, no leaves on the tree, which is something Walter Pall recommended to me anyways independent of certification, just to make sure there's no evaporation whatsoever.

I was thinking of giving the tree to somebody, but as of right now, I don't know if I'll move back tot he states at all.

Posted: Tue Jun 29, 2010 11:56 am
by Tachigi
Elmguy wrote:Hm, you seem to be in PA, I'm in NJ. at what point during the process of getting a phyto cert did you find the problems?
I found the problem with the wording in the documentation for requirements that the EU (UK specifically) have. The keywords being reared continuously in a nursery. This was also initially pointed out and corroborated by the PA state and county inspectors.

Since the piece I was shipping was collected, though had been in a nursery for 5 years, it was shot down. Though note before they collected their fee